Moving with a Pet
Somehow my post on moving with a pet ended up longer than my previous post about moving with kids… The actual moving with a pet does present more of a challenge – unless your kids are “animals” too.
Here is a long-winded list on how to handle moving with a pet. The first section of this post is really for moving long distance with a pet. If you are moving close-by you can skip to the bottom of the post to where I discuss getting your new pet acclimated to his/her new abode.
If you are hiring movers, make sure your pet is at a relatives house or put in an area of your house so they do not feel threatened by the new movers. Also, when the movers are there, it may be unsafe if a pet is running around. Let your movers know that you have a pet and hire pet-friendly movers.
Section 1 – Long Distance Moving with a Pet
Call the vet and schedule an appointment as soon as you can. If you wait until the last minute you may not get an appointment – my vet is scheduled 3 weeks in advance
If your pet has a condition your vet will suggest treatment or sedation techniques for the ride/flight.
You will need vaccine records and licenses if you are traveling. If you are moving to Canada – you will not cross the border without this. I should mention those moving to Hawaii will need to quarantine their pet for months before their move. This can be an annoyance most are not aware of.
If you are flying, you will need a sedative for your pet. I don’t suggest putting your pet on a plane in winter as it gets really cold for them. My vet has always given me a light sedative so my pets are not “out cold” but they are comfortable – this really eliminates the stress of the situation.. This is also helpful if you have a pet that you know doesn’t travel well, is cage aggressive or could bite movers.
Get copies of vet records and vaccination certificates. You need to have actual license papers for any long distance moves or when you are flying with your pet. If your pet has a rabies tag – this does not count! They won’t let you fly without paperwork from your vet.
If your pet is traveling by air, you will probably need a health certificate from the vet, and there may be a time requirement so plan accordingly.
Make your airline reservations directly with the airline if you are flying to your new destination with your pet. Cats and small dogs can often fly in a small carrier with you in the cabin. Larger pets and large carriers may require transport in the cargo area. The latter is probably the most stressful and dangerous mode of transportation for your pet–see Warnings below, and check out How to Minimize Risk to a Pet in the Cargo Area of an Airplane.
Confirm they accept pets. Keep in mind airlines have very specific regulations for pets transported in the cargo area. They will not allow a pet to fly in temperatures in departure, layover or destination cities if the temperatures are too hot or too cold. It may be a pleasant 75 degrees F in Atlanta but it may be 40 degrees F in Chicago. The decision may not be made until the day of your flight.
Travel on the same flight as your pet if your pet is going to be in the cargo area. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold. When you board the plane, notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. If the captain knows that pets are on board, he or she may take special precautions.
Find out what additional cost is involved.
Inquire if you must fax your vet records beforehand (always keep a copy with you).
Ask what specific maximum carrier measurements are allowed. Your pet should be able to turn around freely and not be cramped. Food and water should be available for cargo transported animals. You may be able to buy a cheaper carrier online so shop around if you have time.
Section 2 Local Moves with a Pet
Schedule your dogs to be groomed the week you leave. They will smell clean, their nails will be trimmed so not to ruin your car’s interior and you won’t be taking a dirty dog into a new home. Consider having long hair dogs shaved or heavily trimmed. You may also want to give your cats a good brushing, since they might shed more when they’re stressed.
If you are sensitive to scents, make sure you agree on the fragrances/cologne spray used. Some shampoos also help with shedding and itching. Ask your groomer. You don’t want your dog itching for the entire trip. Not only is it noisy but it is also hard on the pet since the dog may not have enough room to scratch.
Make your grooming appointment early and don’t wait until the last week. You’re making special requests and you should give them plenty of notice about what you want done so they can schedule the appropriate amount of time and personnel needed Make your reservations early to make sure you can bring your pet and get one of those rooms. The most important thing is to speak with someone directly at the hotel. Make a note of their name and department. Get a direct phone number if you can. Do not make assumptions based on what you read online!. Make sure to plan ahead and book pet friendly hotels!
Make a list of things you will need for the road and make sure they aren’t packed to go on the moving truck. Always bring a plastic bin with your pets things with you while you are in the process of moving. Give your pet plenty of love during th e move.Let them sleep in the bed, take them for walks, take time out to play and feed them their favorite food or treats. It will improve their spirits for the actual move day. Pets are often the last thing on people’s minds during a stressful move. The pets begin to feel unloved and neglected which can bring about more stress and bad behaviors.It is not uncommon for pets to refuse food and water while away from home or in a stressful situation. Keep a close eye on their intake. Try to take time every few hours during moving and travel to walk your pet, set out food and water and try to get them to drink. If their appetite doesn’t improve, you should contact a vet. Some sedatives can cause your pets to become thirsty and if not addressed they become dehydrated. Make sure they have access to plenty of water.Keep a log of when and how much sedative you give. It will prevent you from double dosing should you forget in all the chaos of moving.
Here is a moving checklist to help you decide what to do when with your pet.