5 Tips for Moving Pets

By: Amanda Arnold  | 

What five essential things should I consider when moving with a pet?
What five essential things should I consider when moving with a pet?
©iStockphoto.com/Graffizone

A move is rough on animals. They're used to the environment in which they roam - chasing squirrels and prowling after chipmunks. So when you put them into a car or on a plane to set up digs in a new place, they don't always take it that well. But for the most part, pets just want to be with their owners. So if you pay them some loving attention, they'll take the commute to the new home OK.

But beyond making your pet as comfortable as possible, there are other procedural considerations. Does the state or county to which you're moving have special laws related to pets? If you're moving overseas, will you have to quarantine your pet? If you're flying your pet to your new abode, what kinds of documentation will you have to show the airline? Find out the answers to these questions on the next few pages.

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5: Read up on Pet Regulations

If you're moving overseas and you have pets, you need to check into the regulations regarding moving pets. Some countries require quarantine for pets that have been moved from another country - and that quarantine can be as much as six months. Within the United States, each state will have different laws regarding pet transportation. For example, half of the states require a pet harness for dogs. As far as moving regulations, most states don't require quarantine, but the state of Hawaii does. The state is rabies-free and to try to keep it that way, it requires a 120-day quarantine for any pets that travel to the state. You can reduce the quarantine length by having your pet tested for rabies 120 days prior to the move and paying a fee.

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4: Transport Your Pet with You

Not that you would want to put your pet in the back of a moving truck, but if you were considering it, it can't be done. Professional movers don't move pets. So, you will need to transport your pets with you. They'll be much more comfortable in your presence, and you'll be able to keep an eye on them. Travel can make pets nervous, to say the least. If you're transporting a dog, be sure to keep a leash on the animal at all times. And cats generally prefer the confines of a crate for travel. You might also consider some other adjustments for your vehicle for the transport of pets: pet seat covers, pet car barriers (to keep Fido out of the front seat while you drive) and pet steps and ramps (to help them climb aboard).

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3: Check on Airline Rules for Pets

If you're traveling by air, you have another set of issues to consider. You'll need a pet carrier for each pet. Check with the airline to see if the carrier can be kept in the cabin. Some airlines require that all carriers be stowed in luggage compartments. Others allow small carriers to be kept by your seat. You'll also need to show that your pet has been immunized. For example, most airlines will require proof of rabies shots, a certificate of veterinary inspection (signed by your vet) and an acclimation certificate. Also, there will most likely be a $50 to $150 fee for transporting your pet via air. There are also age restrictions for pet air travel, so check into those.

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2: Make Sure Your Pet Wears Identification

Whether you're transporting your pet by air or by car, you want it to wear identification at all times. God forbid your dog gets lost the same way your baggage can when you travel by air. That would be a horrible scenario. So, have your pet wear a tag that includes your name and phone number, the address of your destination and the name and phone number of a friend or relative, as well. It's good to have two points of contact on the tag, in case you're away from your cell phone when Fido or Fluffy gets lost.

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1: Check Local Laws on Pets

Once you get to your new abode, you need to abide by the laws in the county and the state regarding pets. For example, some counties and states may have laws regarding the amount of pets you can have at one residence. And some may have laws on the types of pets that are permitted. In most places, you'll need to have your pet licensed and you'll have to do this within a certain amount of time.

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Originally Published: Nov 17, 2009

Moving Pets FAQ

What to do with pets while preparing to move?
The best thing you can do for your pet when getting ready to move is to keep their routine as normal as possible. This signals to them that everything is OK and may reduce anxiety for them. If you're moving cross-country or overseas, spend time ensuring that your pet is comfortable in a carrier or crate and in a moving car. This is also a good time to take them to the vet for a check-up to ensure they're in good health and can make the journey safely.
How long does it take for a pet to adjust to a new home?
Some pets will adjust more quickly than others, so don't worry if they seem a little bit off following a move. It may take a couple of weeks for them to return to their previous level of comfort and confidence, but they will likely settle in eventually.
What do you do with pets on moving day?
On moving day, ensure that your pet is wearing identification at all times. If possible, have them stay at a family member or friend's home where they've been before. If that isn't possible, block off an empty room and create a quiet area where your pet can relax while you're packing up. This will keep them out of the way and ensure that they don't get scared and attempt to get away while the movers load up.
How do I transport my pet long distance?
If you're moving overseas and taking your pet, you need to look into the regulations regarding moving animals that may include quarantine periods, crate specifications, vaccination records, and additional fees. Do this as soon as you find out that you're moving to ensure you have enough time to meet the requirements. If your new home is within driving distance, plan to transport your pets in your vehicle with you in a crate or carrier for safety purposes. Stop frequently to allow them to eat, drink, and relieve themselves. If the drive will take multiple days, be sure to book pet-friendly accommodation and give them ample exercise to tire them out and reduce stress.
How do you acclimate a dog to a new home?
Upon entering the new house for the first time, keep them on leash and allow them to lead the way as they explore the space. Additionally, keep your dog's routine the same, unpack things they're used to interacting with first (such as their bed or crate), and give them time and space to relax and decompress from the move.