Dog and Cat on couch

A Guide to Moving with Pets

Whether it’s a move down the street or a trek across the country, moving with your pets can be overwhelming for both you and them. Larry Hawk, president of the ASPCA, says, “Moving is very stressful for a family. That stress is also experienced by the pets.”

The universal rule of moving is to be as prepared as possible; however, there are times we end up in situations we don’t expect during the already-stressful moving process. As a pet parent, you need to know the pet-specific precautions to take, so your move is as smooth as possible for every member of the family.

On the Road

First and foremost: buckle up. Allowing pets to wander freely around the vehicle doesn’t only put them at risk for injury, it is also distracting and unsafe for the driver. If your pet doesn’t like being strapped in, invest in a pet carrier.

Second, as much as they may love it, avoid letting your dogs stick their heads out the window while you’re driving, as doing so could cause inner ear problems or lung infections.

Third, pets have to go potty just like humans, so it’s recommended that you make a stop every two to three hours. Of course, this may be a little more challenging with cats, so be extra careful when you let him or her out to use the litter box. To make it easier, pack disposable litter boxes and a bag of litter for easy clean up.

Fourth, never ever leave your pets alone in the vehicle. Awareness about the dangers of leaving pets unattended in cars is at an all-time high; people are breaking into cars to save dogs, and there are even viral videos circulating that show adults attempting to sit in hot cars for 10 minutes…all of them unable to bear it. Even if you’re in the car with your pet, keep water immediately available and offer it anytime you see them panting.

In the Air

Before flying with puppies or kittens, a senior animal or a pet with health conditions, consult your veterinarian about the risks of taking your pet on a plane. You should also contact the airline to find out if there are breed restrictions (many airlines do not allow pugs to travel in the cargo hold because they are susceptible to breathing issues) and any carrier type and size requirements. Also, the USDA requires all carriers to have food and water dishes, “Live Animal” stickers, upright arrows and bedding.

You never know what can happen, so don’t forget ID tags (ideally you’ve had your pet microchipped). Note: you can never have too many ID tags when it comes to flying with your pet.

Before the flight, get some exercise in. If your pet is worn out from playing, he or she will fall asleep easier.

More Pet Travel Tips

Keep a familiar blanket, toy or even a piece of your clothing close to your dog or cat to create the sense of familiarity and put them at ease. If your pet is high-energy or extremely nervous, look into veterinarian-recommended, snug-fitting shirts for pets that target pressure points to calm them.

Most of all, Larry Hawk says that your pets just “want to know that they’re part of the family and that they’ll be going, too.” So round up the troops and get to preparing your two and four-legged family members for the move.