Moving with pets? Follow these tips for a safe and smooth transition

Moving is a complicated matter in and of itself, but when you add pets into the mix, it can get downright hairy. Check out our tips and tricks to help keep your move as pet friendly as possible.

1. Research your pet's immigration process

Some countries may have restrictions on certain breeds (especially short nosed breeds and certain kinds of terriers) and most will have health certificate and shot requirements. Get online and do plenty of research in advance. The last thing you want is to end up having Max turned away at the port of your new country, or worse, stuck in customs for days on end, locked in a cage and suffering. You may even need to arrange for a specialist to help you get your pet through customs once you land in your new home.

2. Update shots

Plan to make one last visit to your current veterinarian to make sure all of your pet’s shots are up-to-date, and that you have refills of any medications to tide you over during your move. Confer with your vet about any new shots or flea and tick medications Fluffy may need as well, as these can vary internationally.

3. Gather your records

While you’re at the vet’s office, arrange to collect copies of your animal’s medical records, or to have them faxed to your new doctor in your new hometown. While clinics may charge you for printed copies (printed copies are the law in some cases, and chances are you may even need to have them notarized), most will fax records to your new vet for free.

4. Vet your vet

Speaking of finding a new veterinarian, before moving with pets, arrange for a replacement doctor in your new country. Research online and read reviews to find someone who sounds like they would be a good fit for your family, and call ahead to ask any questions you may have. Let them know that your previous office will be sending them your pet’s medical records so they can be on the lookout.

5. Pack for your pet

As you pack your home, you’ll need to leave a few key things out of the boxes to help ensure that your pet is as comfortable as possible during the move. Pack their usual food in zip-top bags to avoid a change of diet, which can upset the stomach (never good while traveling!), and have a few unbreakable bowls you can take along with you. Be sure to bring baggies for cleanup, bottled water, a copy of their shot records, health certificate, and a few comfort items as well. Bella will appreciate her own bed and blanket when you stop to rest for the night, or when you finally arrive at your new home.

6. If lost, please call

Double check with the company which provided your micro-chip to ensure that they have your correct phone number on file, and give them your new address with the date you’ll be moving in. If you haven’t micro-chipped your pet, make it a priority to do so before you move.

You may also want to look into getting medical and/or travel insurance for your pet.

7. Planes, trains, and automobiles

Your mode of travel will dictate the safety measures you must take during transit to ensure your pet’s comfort and health. If flying, research your options regarding where your pet is allowed to be during the flight. Animals under a certain weight limit, or those who offer supportive services to their owners (any animal, even cats or ferrets, can be a support animal - all your need is a letter from your psychologist or doctor), may ride in the cabin.

A dog with a pilots hat resting his chin on an airplane

Keep in mind that some breeds of dogs may not fly during certain times of the year, may be restricted from flying certain airlines or countries, or may require a special kind of crate.

If your dog or cat will be in the car with you, invest in a quality travel kennel or harness system for everyone’s safety and never sedate your animal before travel because it could be dangerous for him.

8. Pet friendly lodging

If your trip will span over more than one day, you’ll need to find a hotel that will allow you to bring your pet inside. Make reservations before you embark so that you don’t end up stopping in a town without an available pet room.

9. Pet-safe your new digs

When you arrive to your new home, perform a walkthrough and identify and correct anything that may be an issue, such as holes in the fence or doors that are easy to push open to the outside.

10. Meet the neighbors

Once you’ve settled in, if you have a dog, take a walk around the block and meet your new neighbors. Look up local dog parks online and visit them too; both you and your pup will benefit from the exercise after your long trip.

You’ll settle into your new home much more easily knowing that all things pet related are already taken care of, and be able to relax after what was surely a rough day.