Imagine a child whom you take on a long journey to settle in a new home. The child is scared to leave familiar places, struggles to endure the trip’s hardships, and feels lonely in the new surroundings. Furthermore, this child can’t communicate with words, so you alone need to think of all possible ways to ease the trip.

The analogy with a child is not far from the truth. Pets are a beloved part of your family, and you care for them with all heart. That’s why you want to take them with you and try to plan a safe trip. However, the process is complicated by legal requirements, limitations on transportation, and the responsibility that weighs on your shoulders. 

In the guide, we give general recommendations with an emphasis on cats, dogs, rodents, and birds as pets. If you carry exotic or other domestic animals, consult with a specialist to fit the requirements of the state you are moving to.

We’ll discuss the preparation hurdles step by step to check the main questions on pet relocation. Before rushing into action, check whether you thought about these steps:

  1. Planning is key — legal requirements of the new place.
  2. Conditions for a safe relocation. Pet medical records.
  3. Changing a state or flying across the country. Two ways to travel.

Let’s start with the basics — planning and preparing.

Why preparing for the relocation is different when you are moving with pets?

Alas, our pets can’t collect their things and tell what they need to calm down during the journey. As owners, we are totally responsible for every planning step and, apart from our needs, we are obliged to gather all necessities for moving with pets

Whether you have a dog or an iguana, your friend has some stuff, like a special sleeping place or food, that it needs up to the departure. If you plan to pack a dog’s pillow or a terrarium into a track with other belongings, prepare a substitute so that your pet will feel comfortable up till the end.

Bound by law State & Local Regulations

A pet is like any person. It has an ID and needs certain medical documents for settling in the new place. Each state has its local ordinances, which are worth looking into.

  • When moving with pets to another state, examine its laws concerning animal keeping. If you have an exotic pet or are not sure about the regulations, contact their Department of Agriculture or Veterinary Office.
  • Get in touch with local authorities to know the details. There may be a limit on the number of pets you can have in one house or a ban for certain animals. 
  • Talk to the apartment’s landlord or the head of the local community. Before moving your pet, you need to ensure that you won’t have problems with the flat’s owner or neighbors. Some communities create restrictions on the quantity or kinds of animals you can have at home. 
  • In the case of troubles in the new place, you may contact the State Veterinarian to get a consultation. 
  • Upon arrival, change the address and phone number in the ID tag or microchip.

Keep your pets safe while moving and after you settle in

Actually, the moving day is not the most dangerous step for a pet. During the ride, you’ll have time to think about the pet’s safety, but other pressing matters will occupy your mind in the time of packing belongings for the relocation. That’s why it’s advisable to ask a friend to shelter your pet for a while. It will reduce the stress of caring for this issue. You may also give the pet to a kennel for several days, which will also help prepare necessities for pet relocation that will follow. 

A smooth trip depends on the qualitative preparation. Here are several things that will help you pass a state border or find your pet if a disaster happens.

  • Pet identification document or, positively, ID. As a person, you are not the only one who needs documents to travel. Your pet’s ID tag must contain your and pet’s names, the place where you are heading to, and your phone number. If your animal friend requires special medical conditions, better to state it in the ID as well.
  • Save photos with your pet to show them if it gets lost. Furthermore, in this case, boasting to your new neighbors about the animal you have maybe a good idea. Let them know how it looks so they will identify it if something happens.
  • Prepare a pet carrier. Each animal requires a select carrier depending on the mean of transport you are planning to use. Consider buying a pet carrier when traveling with a cat or a small dog. On the other hand, if you travel with a dog by car, remember to use a leash. Stressed, the dog may run away during the ride, so don’t leave a place for a chance.

Contact your vet for medical recommendations

Obviously, the vet will help you with necessary medical records, but they can also give valuable advice for the travel. Here are several topics to raise during your final visit:

  • Get advice on an animal professional in the place you are moving to. You want your pet always to receive the best treatment, but finding a new vet may take time. Talk to your current veterinarian about his colleagues. They usually have connections across the country and may recommend someone.
  • The vet is also knowledgeable about different animals’ legal requirements, so if you have concerns, do not hesitate to ask.
  • Ask him or her to prepare the necessary health records. Moreover, consult on a health certificate, an entry permit, and a rabies tag, which are a vital part of pet travel documents.
  • The ambiguity of sedation. Sleeping pills may help your pet get through the ride smoothly and with lesser stress. However, consider this option with caution. Tranquilizers were listed as one of the primal reasons for death during animal transportation, and some airlines refuse to take pets under medication. To get a better understanding of this issue, contact your vet.

Moving pets across the country in a car and by air

Whether you decide on moving pets overseas or to the nearby city, there are two main ways to travel — to take a pet with you in a car or go by plane. Each path has its hardships and regulations, which we’ll discuss in detail. 

  • Going on the road

Before starting the journey, you need to prepare a carrier or any other space or tool to accommodate the pet. If you have a cat, place its carrier near its resting place for several days before the journey. This action will help your pet adjust to the carrier, and consequently will ease the stress of being inside the limited space for a long time. Furthermore, let the animal into the car or even take a trip in the local area. It will also help you notice possible hurdles you haven’t thought of before. 

If your drive takes more than one day, you’ll need to pack all necessities to care for the pet. Remember, it’s easy for a person to get food or use a bathroom in every gas station, but there is no such variant for a pet. Pack its food beforehand, and don’t forget about medicines from the vet. Furthermore, if you want to book a hotel room, search for ones that accept guests with pets. 

During the journey, animals behave differently. Some might sleep through the trip, others will bark or squeak without a stop. Be patient and make regular stops to rest and give fresh air to your pet. However, don’t release a leash or open the car doors if your pet isn’t inside the carrier because a frightened animal may easily run away. We have heard of the stories when cats return after ten years of wandering, but don’t let it happen to your beloved friend.

When traveling with a bird, put a dark cloth on a cage to calm it down. The same is advisable for a carrier with a cat, as sleep may reduce the journey’s pressure.

  • Flying with a pet

It’s definitely faster than sitting in the car for hours and maybe days. However, moving pets across the country by air also is much more regulated and requires specific permissions. If you have a small dog or a cat, they may travel under your seat on the plane. But in other cases, your pet will fly in the cargo section. 

Usually, airlines require a certain type of kennel to transport an animal. Moreover, there are restrictions due to the weather conditions. If the temperature is too high or too low, the airlines may refuse to fly your pet. That’s why you need to plan everything in advance and find out existing rules.

Furthermore, medical documents from the vet are valid for a short period. For example, a pet health certificate is legitimate only within ten days, and you need one for each plane you are boarding during the journey.

Upon arrival, dedicate a special place for your pet and don’t let it go outside the house. The new site will frighten the animal, and it may run away. Keep an ID tag intact to find your pet quickly in case of trouble. Furthermore, it would be better to keep your animal friend in one checked room for the first few days. A new house or an apartment may contain hidden dangers for your animal pet, like undiscovered holes in walls or loose cables. Only after making a thorough check and cleaning let your pet discover the new living space.

Final checks for pet relocation

  1. Prepare a kit of essential to accommodate your pet in the first days upon arrival. 
  2. Take all the documents: pet ID, health records, and any required papers to cross the state’s border if necessary.
  3. Create conditions to ensure a comfortable and safe journey for the pet. Try to keep calm and be ready to endure barking and meowing. 
  4. Keep fresh water near and remember to give it to the pet. 
  5. After arrival, give your pet some time to accommodate and try to limit any additional stress.

And remember, if you are overwhelmed by the move and require help with relocating a pet, you can contact an animal relocation company. They will take care of the move’s legal and physical sides, completing the most challenging task, like moving pets overseas.

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