8 Essentials To Moving With Pets

Posted on Dec 14, 2014

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I read recently that although the majority of households in the United States have a pet when relocation is required, many of these pets are left behind.  Shelters state that two significant reasons animals are dropped off is because people moving and/or landlords deny pets to their renters.


With that in mind, consider these 8 essential tips to moving with pets to make sure your beloved furry friend makes the journey safely with you.


8 Essentials to Moving with Pets



Pack Vet Records


Make an appointment with the Veterinarian.  Make sure your pet is up to date with shots and get a thorough check-up for your pet well in advance of packing boxes.  Why?  Packing is stressful on pets.  Vet visits are stressful.  Don’t overlap them if you don’t want your pet’s health compromised by stress.  Make sure you get the following documents prior to leaving the Veterinarian office:


  1. Vet’s contact information in case of emergency
  2. Interstate health certificate [mandatory if moving across state lines].  These travel papers certify that your pet has a clean bill of health, and shots such as rabies, are current.


You may want to consider a microchip for your pet.  Be sure to update the microchip’s information once you’ve settled into your new location.  Also, have your pet’s medical papers faxed to the new veterinarian.



Reduce Stress


As previously mentioned, animals get stressed during a move too, especially cats.  I’ve had the unfortunate experience of putting a cat to sleep after complete renal failure, a complication of fatty liver disease, a result of getting off his feed during the stress of moving.


It’s essential to manage your pet’s stress during the packing and loading stage.  Consider keeping them in quiet, safe, familiar room such as a bathroom or spare bedroom with food, water, (and litter box if applicable)  On the day of loading you may want someone they are comfortable with to stay in the room with them or check on them frequently.  Make sure they are confined to an empty room while movers are present and post a do-not-disturb sign on the door of that room.


Keep them in a separate and familiar room or even asking a friend or family member to watch over them while multiple people are in the house and items are being moved around. If you’re keeping your pet in the house while movers are present, make sure they are in a room that has already been cleared out and post a do-not-disturb sign to keep those helping out.


You’ll want to reverse these steps in your new home.  This is especially important for cats as they usually need more time and space to acclimate to a new place.  Otherwise, they may find an unsafe space to hide.  Accept that it may take a few weeks for them to start to feel at home.



First Night Box


It’s strongly recommended to have a first night box for every member of the family.  Your pet should be included in that count.  Make up a first-night moving box with your pet’s identification, your contact information (i.e. cell number), medication, food, water bowls, litter box if applicable, carrier or kennel as applicable, bed, and comfort item.  Be sure you have direct access to the box to unpack the first night.


The site MyVeterinarian.com lists members of the American Veterinary Medical Association as well as emergency clinics arranged by city, state or ZIP code.  This is a good site to have handy in case of emergency during the move.



Sedate Or Not


Many Veterinarians do not recommend sedatives during long road trips.  Administering the sedative can create its own stress. Though that may be preferred over the alternative.  However, the sedative itself too my have the opposite effect, creating more anxiety.


There are natural remedies that can be sprayed in the air to promote calm.  For cats, I’ve used Comfort Zone with Feliway for Cats Spray with good success before, during, and after the move.  It utilizes feline stress reducing pheromones.  Additionally, I’ve used Pet Organics, Calm Down for Cats during the road trip portion of the move.  It’s natural and veterinarian approved.  For dogs, there are multiple Dog stress relief options to look at.


If money is not an object, there are alternatives for pet travel.  You can use a professional pet transporter such as Animal Land – Pet Movers, which flies cats and dogs in the cabin, across the country, with their own pet attendant.


Traveling By Car


When moving across state lines, many times we drive.  And if we don’t transport our pets separately, they will travel by car with us.  Just as with children, animals need a break every 3-4 hours.


A dog will want to stretch it’s legs, eat and drink a little.  Be sure to have some poop bags on hand.  Cats, on the other hand, will most likely want to stay secured in their carrier.  If your cat is accustomed to walking on a leash, you may want to do the same on a road trip.  Otherwise, it’s best to pick a quiet spot away from traffic to allow the cat access to the litter pan; consider keeping this activity confined to a closed car to reduce risk of bolting.  Refresh their food and water.  Be aware that cats most likely will not eat until travel  is complete for the day, so plan accordingly.


For road trips that last longer than one day, you’ll want a pet-friendly hotel. Petswelcome.com and BringFido.com list hotels that accept multiple pets, even exotic animals.


Here is a list of things (in addition to your pet’s first night box) to keep handy for your pet(s) in the car:


1.  Sheets, towels or blankets to protect the interior.  2.  Basic cleaning supplies.  3.  Treats.  4.  A leash or harness.  5.  A stake to secure the leash.  6.  The means to keep the animal carrier or cage level and fixed.



Traveling By Plane


If you can’t drive to your new home in less than a day or two, some may opt to fly.  However, be aware that some airlines don’t allow pets.  Those airlines that do allow pets require paperwork and advance notice.  If traveling by plane to get to your new home, all of the information in points 1-4 still apply.  And much of the information in point 5 still apply.


Here is a checklist of additional items you may need:


1. Pet insurance.  2. Pay shipping ahead of time.  3. Arrange for drop off/pick up.  4. Use regulation size pet carriers/cages/stalls that give your pet room to move.  5. Professional pack tropical fish.  6. Air Waybill  papers signed by all necessary parties.  7. Attach leash, contact information, pet’s name ~ to outside of carrier.  8. Carry copies of all shipping, health, and license documents.  9. Recent photo of pet for i.d.



Prepare New Home


Landlords should disclose whether an animal previously lived in your new home.  If you’re purchasing a new home you may not know whether an animal lived there.  If possible, consider doing a flea treatment while it’s empty.  It’s better to deal with these pesky jumpers before rather than after they’ve had time to enjoy your precious pet.


Remember too the points from #2 and #3 above,  make your pet comfortable, keep them safe, and give them time to acclimate on their terms.  Be on guard during the early days against open doors to the outside, as your pet may bolt trying to find its way to the home they are familiar with.  Also, before allowing your pets to roam free in a fenced yard, thoroughly check for gaps or holes in the fence line.  Clear the yard of anything your pet may harmfully chew or swallow.



Know Your Neighborhood


Some rental communities ban certain dog breeds.  City ordinances can even set a cap on the number of pets in a family.  So you’ll want to do your research before you move.  The Animal Legal and Historical Center website, allows you to research city, state, and federal regulations regarding pets.  If your landlord seems hesitant to allow an animal in your new home, if you can offer a referral stating your pet is well-behaved, and you’ve never lost a pet deposit, it will go a long way toward gaining their approval.  Willingness to pay a pet deposit and even a small monthly fee are points in your pets favor as well.


For More Information

For more in-depth information about moving with pets, read this article.
This is part of The Ultimate Movers Guide ~ a 15 part series.  Be sure to check out the rest of the series for lots of moving tips. 


 P.S. What tips do you recommend for moving your furry friend?


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