Most pets are fearful of new surroundings. To help them adjust quickly, follow these tips for moving with pets from the American Moving and Storage Association and pet movers, Animal Land.
Start planning for your pet's transfer as soon as you know you're going to relocate. Remember, pets cannot be shipped in the moving truck, so you'll need to make special arrangements for their transfer.
Except for service dogs, pets are not permitted on buses or trains. Therefore, if a service dog is accompanying someone, the bus or train company must be notified in advance, just as you would notify an airline to secure the dog's passage.
By traveling with you, your pet will retain a sense of identity. However, pets can become frightened and bolt out of open doors or windows, so keep them on leashes or in crates when outside your car or hotel. Always, regardless of whether pets are traveling with you or by another means, give your pets a special identification tag. The tag should include the pet's name, your name, a destination address, or a friend or relative's contact information. Refer to the car travel checklist for additional tips.
A visit to the vet
Before you begin any journey, it's wise to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a general checkup. Be sure to:
- Obtain your pet's medical records
- Secure health certificates
- Apply for entry permits, if needed
- Ask for a reference for a veterinarian in your new city
- Consult about mild sedation for your pet during the trip
Nearly every state has laws on the entry of animals, with the exception of tropical fish. For more information, call or write the state veterinarian, state department of animal husbandry, or appropriate authority.
Health certificates must accompany dogs and horses entering nearly all states, and nearly half of the states have the same requirements for other pets. In some cases, this certificate must be in the hands of the state regulatory agency in advance of entry.
Most states require an up-to-date rabies inoculation for dogs, and many require it for cats as well. The rabies tag must be securely attached to the pet's collar. Hawaii requires that cats and dogs be quarantined for 120 days.
Before you settle on a new neighborhood, check with the city clerk or town hall for specific pet control and licensing ordinances.
If you are relocating internationally, consider working with a pet relocation company like Animal Land. Advanced planning and follow up are crucial to ensure your pet is not refused entry into the country or quarantined for an extensive period of time.
Pets traveling by air
All pets fly on commercial and cargo airlines – there are no pet-only airlines. If your pet is placed in the cargo hold, you can rest assured that this area is the same temperature and pressure as the cabin. The air is the same air circulated throughout the entire aircraft.
While the holds are temperature-controlled, many airlines will not allow pets to fly if the outside temperature is above 85 degrees. By booking late night and early morning flights, you can usually get your pet where it needs to go. Additionally, pets can safely fly in the winter when the temperature is above 20 degrees.
Consider sending smaller pets such as birds, hamsters, gerbils, and tropical fish by air express. Airline freight departments, pet stores, or department stores can supply shipping containers. Tropical fish should be packed by a local pet shop specializing in the service.
Visit the pet relocation experts, Animal Land, for the latest information on airline policies for traveling pets. To prepare your pet for a flight, refer to the air travel checklist.
Not your average, every day pet
You can transport your unusual and exotic pets such as monkeys, snakes, lizards, alligators, and skunks by air (as long as you adhere to the airline crating requirements) or in your car. But keep in mind many states have specific "wild animal" entry requirements. Check with the state regulatory agency to determine if your pet is allowed.
- If your dog or cat is not used to traveling by car, make short trips with the pet a week or two prior to the trip to accustom it to motion and to teach it how to behave.
- Dogs should be taught to lie quietly, keep their heads inside, and not annoy the driver or passengers. To avoid irritated eyes and problems, don't let your dog stick its head in the wind.
- Cats are often frightened of car travel, but they adjust quickly. Some people allow the cat to find its own place in the car; others feel it's best to confine a cat to its own carrier.
- Folding kennels or crates can be most useful for dogs and cats.
- Accustom your pet to being on a leash and always use it when traveling.
- If you must stop overnight, check in advance to find a hotel that will allows pets.
- Be sure your pet is properly restrained and its rabies tag is firmly attached.
- Put together a travel kit that includes:
- Pet food
- Food and water dishes
- A can opener (if needed)
- A few treats
- A favorite toy
- A blanket
- A comb or brush
- A sedative (if prescribed by your vet)
- Paper towels and cleaning supplies
- A scooper and plastic bags to clean up after your pet
- Make reservations well in advance and follow airline instructions. Many airlines have restrictions as to the number of pets that can travel on a given flight, as well as the time of year that pets can travel as excess baggage. If you have a large dog, keep in mind that these pets can only fit on a few types of aircraft. Call the cargo department of your airline – not the telephone number for passenger reservations – for restrictions and requirements.
- Check the airline's requirements to see whether your pet can travel in a carrier that can be kept under a seat in the cabin or must travel as airfreight. At the airline’s discretion, pets that weigh up to 15 pounds and can fit under the seat may be allowed to travel in the cabin.
- Obtain a shipping container a week or two in advance. Familiarize your pet with it by encouraging your pet to get inside. Gradually lengthen the time the pet is inside.
- Carefully schedule boarding and shipping arrangements for your pet to ensure it is well cared for until you are able to receive it at your new home.
- Feed the pet no less than five or six hours before flight time and give it a drink of water no less than two hours before flight. Freezing water in the pet carrier's water dish can help satisfy thirst during the trip.
- Get the pet to the air/freight terminal in time – one hour early if your pet is accompanying you and two hours if you are shipping the pet.
- Be certain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons responsible for the pet at the point of origination and destination are clearly marked on the container and on the pet's ID tag.
- Notify the person receiving the pet that it is on the way. Give him/her the flight and waybill numbers.
- Verify changing regulations.
- Pets can usually be picked up within 90 minutes of flight arrival. Use the air waybill number when making inquiries.
- Download a free guide to moving your pets from Animal Land.