Moving a pet household a long distance can mean a truckload of logistical worries. Your pets may or may not be used to traveling anywhere outside the home, let alone a long distance, and then there are the paperwork requirements for pet relocation into your new state or country.
To help busy and confused owners, companies have even sprung up offering everything from a few tips to full door-to-door transport.
Cassandra Luppens is the owner of Pet Relocator, a professional relocation service for pets, which grew out of her personal love for animals. A former veterinary technician and owner of a tabby cat and boxer dog, Cassandra founded her company in 2013 to offer full-service relocation and travel consultation for pet owners on the go. We checked in with her for some tips on how to prepare for a long-distance move with furry friends.
Visit Your Vet Before you Move
Cassandra suggests the first step for a long-distance pet move should be a trip to the vet. “Make sure they’re in good health and have had all of their vaccinations, and that they don’t have anything that would make the trauma of a move a health risk.”
Let your vet know where you plan to move. They may be able to offer advice on any known health issues for your pet breed in that area. Also, do your research and know what paperwork your vet needs to sign. Requirements vary from state to state in the U.S., with Hawaii being the most complex. Moving internationally can be more complicated. Check with the U.S. Embassy in your destination country – and any countries you may have a layover in -- to find out what is required.
Choose to Go By Plane or Car
You will also need to decide whether to send your pet by car or plane, since pets are not currently allowed on buses or trains. You can always hire a pet relocation company like Cassandra’s to coordinate a flight to your destination.
Otherwise, if you plan to travel with your pet, you will need to make the following arrangements:
By Car – “be sure to plan ahead for your stops and find lodging that is pet friendly,” said Cassandra. Make sure you have a litter box in the carrier for your cat. However, Cassandra recommends that cats may travel better by plane since it is quicker.
By Airplane – If it’s a simple trip and a pet who will fit under the seat in a carrier, the easiest and least expensive route is to do it yourself. Call the airline and let the agent know your plans. Expect the animal’s ticket to be about $125 to $175. We found specifics on the web here on pet services at airports around the country.
You can also check a pet as cargo, where they travel in a hold area below the cabin with other animals in carriers. But be aware, airlines are limited in the number of pets they can accept, so book ahead.
Many promise controlled temperatures in an area that is pressurized just like the cabin. However, airline companies can limit travel when temperatures outside are at extreme highs and lows. If you pet is accustomed to extreme climates such as the ones you will be flying in, you can obtain temperature acclimation certificate from your vet. Check ahead that your airline will accept them.
Things to Keep in Mind:
“Do not give your pet a sedative for airplane travel!” cautions Cassandra. The altitude may multiply the effects of the drugs, which can affect your pet’s respiratory system and be dangerous.
Many airlines will not allow snub-nosed breeds such as pug dogs and Persian cats onboard. Mention the breed when booking to ensure your pet is allowed. Some airlines also have age minimum restrictions that you will also need to be aware of.
Using a Pet Carrier
Whether taking your pet by car or plane, it’s important to have the proper carrier or a comfortable spot in the vehicle. “It’s going to be their home away from home for the journey, so you want it to be protective and comfortable,” says Cassandra. Different airlines have their own requirements, so be sure to check.
In general, Cassandra recommends hard-shell or wire-mesh crates that securely close, with room to stretch out and move around. On airplanes, be sure to line the carrier with puppy training pads and some shredded paper. Unfortunately, you cannot open the carrier during the flight to change it out if it gets used.
You will have to remove your pet from the carrier and hold it as you walk through security to board your flight and may want to have a harness and leash on it. You can also request that the screening be done in a room where the pet will be in a closed space. Be sure to get to the airport early so you have plenty of time and don’t miss your flight.
Before your trip, help your pet get comfortable in a new crate by taking it on a few short trips in the car. “You’ll be able to see how they’ll do on the trip and observe any warnings signs of anxiety,” said Cassandra. "Look for symptoms such as drooling, panting, or sweating from their paws."
Even if your pet can last the journey without needing food, take some with you in case of delays. Also be sure to provide plenty of water. You could freeze the water bowl so it melts during the trip and is less likely to spill. You can also try training your pet to use an on-demand water bottle more popular for small animals such as hamsters.
If you plan accordingly, transporting your furry pal for a long-distance move should go smoothly.
Have you moved long distance with a pet? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.