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How to Move Your Pets and Animals

moving with pets and animals

How to Move Your Pets and Animals Your pets are an integral part of your family. When you make the decision to move to a new home, you do not want to leave these family members behind. Planning your move ahead of time is the best way to make sure that you and your pets make it to your new home successfully. Remember that any change can be very stressful for your pet, so it is important to avoid as many stressful situations as possible, and this short guide will help you do just that. Because the best place to start is before moving day, we will begin our guide during the planning phase of your move. This will allow you to integrate this process into the overall move planning.

The Legalities

There are different laws regarding various animals and the requirements that must be met to keep them in each individual state. It is a good idea to contact the State Veterinarian or the Department of Agriculture for the state you are moving to before you make any relocation arrangements for your animals. This is especially true for any exotic animals, such as wolves, monkeys, and even things like ferrets and hedgehogs. It will only cause further trouble and expense to move an animal only to find out that they are not permitted in a state you are moving to, or that you don't have the proper permits to keep them. There will also be laws related to common pets, such as dogs and cats. Most areas enforce leash laws and immunization requirements that should be met before you move into a city or town. Certain complexes, such as apartments or condos, may also have requirements that you need to meet that are not related to state laws. Be sure that you ask questions regarding your pets at every level to be sure there are no problems related to your animals along the way.

Before You Leave

It is very important that you gather important documentation before you begin the packing process. Not only will the proper paperwork help you prove that you meet any of the legal stipulations of your destination state, but it will also help in the event that your pet runs away or is lost at some point during the transition. Here are some of the more important things to get together. Keep all of this in a file with important moving paperwork so that it is not lost.

  • Take and keep a recent picture of your pets on hand so that you can easily identify them or provide local shelters, and the internet, with an image to look for.
  • You should get a health certificate from your pets Veterinarian less than ten days before you move.
  • Current shot records for your pet that meet the requirements of your destination state.
  • Permits for exotic animals, service animals, or special pets that may not be allowed in your destination state otherwise.
  • ID tags should be present on all animals, regardless of what type. Birds can use leg bands, dogs can have collar tags, and other animals can wear something accordingly.
  • Health records should be acquired from your pet's veterinarian so that you have a copy of them before heading to your destination state. This will enable you to find a new vet and get settled faster.

Methods of Transport

There are a number of methods that you can use to transport your pets to your new home. You should decide which one is the best for your situation well before moving day arrives. This will give you the time to plan for the needs of that method. For example, if you are transporting your pets by air, you will need specific types of carriers and certification from your veterinarian. Hiring a professional pet moving company can incur some extra fees, but will ensure that your pet rides in comfort and style. For animals that require something special, this is the best route to take if you don't want to move them yourselves. Regardless of what method you choose, take a moment to ensure that the carrier you plan on using to transport your pet is both sturdy and comfortable for your animals. When considering a crate or carrier, make certain that your pet can stand up inside and turn around, with enough space to lie down as well. It should have a bottom that won't leak and plenty of ventilation. The door should be secure without a lock as well, so that your animal can be accessible in the event of an emergency. If you are considering travel by air, think about purchasing your carrier from the airline themselves. Most airlines offer carriers for sale that meet all of the legal requirements set forth by the US Department of Agriculture as well as the International Air Transport Association. You can also often find such carriers in pet specialty stores. If you choose to purchase a crate from a pet store, make sure that you are certain it meets all airline rules before buying it.

Air Transport

Many people choose to move animals by air each year. Choosing an airline and getting these plans in order is a process that will require a few steps. Follow this advice to ensure you and your animal are ready for a trip via an airliner.

  • Find an airline that accepts pets. Most do, but there are some that do not.
  • Inform the airline that you are bringing an animal with you when you book your flight.
  • Know that some small animals, in crates small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, may be allowed in the cabin. All other animals, except service animals, must ride in the cargo area.
  • Exotic pets may not be allowed, so be sure to ask questions ahead of time if you have an exotic pet.
  • Make all attempts to book a straight through flight. Switching planes can be quite stressful for your animals.
  • Have all proper documentation on hand during check in. Add extra time to the check in process if you are bringing a pet.
  • Mark the crate with the pet's name, your information, 'Live Animals' and which side should be kept up on the outside of the crate.
  • If you are moving aquatic animals, be sure to pack battery powered air stones and sturdy, watertight containers in a heavy box and mark the sides appropriately.
  • Don't feed your pets right before the trip. Experts recommend you feed them something light at least seven hours prior and nothing else after.
  • Take your pet for a leashed walk just prior to check in and loading.
  • Consider the time of year when you are traveling. Keep in mind that airlines might refuse to send an animal if it is too cold or too warm outside.

Car Travel

While travel by airplane is quite popular, and travel by train, bus, or other methods are less popular, travel by personal car is the most common method of transporting pets to a new home. Not only is this the cheapest method of transport for your pets, but it allows you the peace of mind knowing that your animals are right there with you. Still, there is some planning that must be done ahead of time to ensure both the comfort of your animal and the people riding in the vehicle with the animal. The following guidelines will help you ensure that your trip is pleasant for everyone.

  • It will pay off to get your animals used to travel by car ahead of time. You can start by taking them around the block in your car, and then maybe to the store or a park. Make your trips a little longer each time and your pet will be excited to go for a ride when the time comes to leave your old home.
  • If you are traveling with a dog or a cat, don't feed them or allow them access to water for at least three hours before you leave. For trips that are going to take multiple days, feed these pets only once each day.
  • Take bottles of water from your home for the trip as different water along the road to your new home can actually cause upset stomachs.
  • Schedule lots of stops along the way to let your pets out so that they can stretch their legs. If you do, they will be less unsettled along the way.
  • If your pet will be allowed out in the car, such as dogs often are, keep your power locks windows locked so that they don't accidently roll them down. Cats are a huge concern here as well, since they may jump out of an open window if given the chance.
  • Airflow is important, especially to animals who are prone to getting motion sick. If you don't plan on using the air conditioning, make sure that you keep the windows cracked in the area where your pet is.
  • For small pets, keep your vehicle within a temperature range that is comfortable to you. This is a good guide for these animals, who are overly sensitive to temperature extremes and who can suffer from illness if exposed to high or low temperatures.
  • Leaving your animals in the vehicle alone can be fatal, especially in overly cold or overly warm temperatures. Once the engine is off, temperatures inside the vehicle can spike or drop dramatically very quickly. To avoid illness or death, don't leave your animals in your vehicle when you go into a restaurant or other store.
  • Don't forget to remove water and food dishes from your pets cages before you move them. This will prevent messy spills and situations.
  • Smaller animals can benefit from being covered. Birds do much better in particular, if you cover their cage with a sheet or blanket. This can also prevent drafts and other problems.
  • If you are driving your fish to your new place, be sure that you keep them out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can warm the water to fatal levels.

Staying Overnight

Another thing you need to think about when you are moving over long distances is where you will be staying overnight. Often, you will have hotels planned out ahead of time, which will give you a chance to find some that are pet friendly. Never leave your pet in your vehicle through the night. Instead, follow these guidelines to ensure your pet is comfortable with their family overnight.

  • If you leave the hotel room with your pet inside, be sure to put the do not disturb sign on the door to prevent problems related to housekeeping coming into the room when you aren't there.
  • Make sure you pack enough food to last the entire trip. Consider pre-portioning it into ziploc bags before you leave your house.
  • Have two leashes on hand just in case one is lost or damaged.
  • Keep medications close and offer them at night when your pet is calm.
  • Have a favorite toy or blanket on hand to make your pets feel more at home.
  • Pack room deodorizer so that you can leave the hotel room smelling nice.
  • If your pet is known to be destructive when stressed, bring their crate inside and let them sleep there when you are not able to specifically watch them.

Home Again

After a long trip, facing the unpacking and settling process can be another hurdle you just aren't ready for. This is the same outlook your pet might have when they are brought into a new place. Your animals will require some time to get used to the new place, but that doesn't mean you should be lax about their routine. The faster they understand the routine, the easier it will be for them to settle, so keep the following in mind as you make your way to your new home and life.

  • Begin the new feeding and exercise routine right away. Keep these feeding and walking times the same every day as you unpack.
  • Keep their favorite toys or blankets in the open, where they can see and use them.
  • For cats, keep the doors to the various rooms closed until they get used to the home itself. As they get acclimated, open the doors and let them expand their comfort zone.
  • Contact a local veterinarian right away and schedule your first appointment shortly after you arrive so that you can get established.
  • Don't force your animal out of their cage the moment you arrive. Simply leave the door open and let them come out when they are ready.
  • Finally, if you are setting up a cage or tank, do so in the place where your animal is likely to remain. The less you move them around, the easier this transition will be in the end.

Moving is just as difficult for pets as it is for humans. Thankfully, people relocate with their animals all of the time, so there is a tried and true approach that can be put to work for your move. Keep these things in mind and you'll easily be able to relocate without trouble while keeping your family, including your pets, intact.



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