Moving is a stressful endeavor. There are boxes to pack, valuables to secure, and furniture to disassemble. But when your shift from one home to another involves a pet, the undertaking becomes even more, err, ruff. And if you’ve got a dog or cat that doesn’t travel well, things can get downright hairy. But with careful planning and preparation — and plenty of patience — you can get through any location change without feeling as though you’re chasing your tail.
Before the Big Day
- Educate yourself on your destination locale’s pet entry regulations, licensing regulations, and laws by contacting the State Veterinarian or State Department of Agriculture and the City Clerk’s office, local humane organization, or area animal control facility.
- Renting? Verify that your house or apartment allows pets. Local laws may also limit the number of dogs or cats in a single household, so be sure to check such regulations.
- Make a visit to the veterinarian for a final check-up. If you have an animal that gets overly excited or motion sick, inquire about any medications that might help ease your pet’s discomfort on the trip. Be sure to obtain your pet’s records (including a certificate of rabies vaccination), as well as an interstate health certificate if your new state requires it for entry. If you don’t yet have a vet lined up in your new town, ask your current provider for recommendations. It’s also a good idea to have your pet’s nails trimmed to avoid damage to your car’s upholstery.
- Have a tag made with your pet’s name, your destination address, and your cell phone number, so that you can easily be contacted should your pet become lost during the move. (You may also wish to include on your pet’s collar a second tag with the name and address of an alternate contact in case you can’t be reached while in transit.)
- If you plan to travel over the course of two or more days, make advance reservations for pet-friendly overnight accommodations.
- Designate one family member to be responsible for your pet. It’s up to that person to make sure the animal has been properly fed, exercised, medicated (if necessary), and comforted.
- Provide your pet a safe and quiet sanctuary while the movers shuffle in and out of your house. This could be a bathroom, empty bedroom, carrier/crate, pet day care, or friend’s house. This will not only give your animal a stress-free place to ride out the move but will also ensure that he or she does not run away amidst the chaos.
- Stock a car kit with collapsible food and water bowls, a jug of potable water, plenty of your pet’s regular food, a can opener (if needed), a collar and leash, waste bags, litter and a litter box, favorite toys and blankets, a worn T-shirt (your scent may lend your pet comfort), paper towels and cleaning wipes (just in case), and your pet’s usual bedding.
- During the drive, secure your pet in a portable kennel or in a proper pet restraint, if desired. Try to stick to your pet’s typical feeding, medication, and exercise schedule. Be sure to provide your pet fresh water during the journey, and never leave him or her alone in the car.
After Your Arrive
- It’s best if the moving company can unpack your furniture and boxes ahead of time, but if this isn’t possible, provide your pet with the same sort of quiet and safe space that you did while moving out.
- Use the food and water bowls, bed, blanket, and toys with which your pet is already familiar. Try to place these items in the same areas of the new home that they occupied in your previous abode.
- It may take several weeks for your pet to become accustomed to your new location, so take care to keep cats confined and dogs on leashes until they realize that they are staying in the new place. Otherwise, your pet may try to return to your previous home.
Have you moved with a pet before? What other tips do you have from your experience?