Post written by Dr. Michael Boyarin, guest blogger.
By itself, moving can be both exciting and stressful. Moving with pets, however, presents unique and specific challenges that can be met with a little knowledge and advance planning.
Most of what will ensure a smooth experience for both you and your pets can be done well in advance of the actual move.
Following are some of the most important areas for consideration:
BEFORE THE MOVE:
1. Microchip (& ID tags): Microchipping your pet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pets safe return should he ever become lost.
If you have not already done this, now is an opportune time to do so. If already microchipped, update your contact information, including your new address.
*If you are moving internationally, make sure your veterinarian implants a chip that meets The International Standards Organization (ISO) global standards.
2. Health certificate: For interstate travel, the USDA requires a valid health certificate, issued by a licensed veterinarian within 30 days of travel. A physical exam & assuring appropriate rabies immunization will likely be required.
For international travel, the rules vary by the country of your destination. This can be a tedious & confusing process that often requires months of planning. Contacting the consulate of the country in question can be very helpful.
3. Pet records: In most instances, medical records can be faxed or emailed to your new veterinarian. However, if your pet has complex or specific medical needs that might require immediate treatment, consider obtaining copies prior to travel.
4. Pet medications: Obtain an adequate supply of any products your pet uses regularly. This will allow you to establish your new veterinary relationship in a more thoughtful & effective manner.
*While they are not routinely necessary, if you anticipate needing sedatives or motion sickness medications, don’t wait to discuss this with your veterinarian. There is no “one size fits all” when using these medications. Allow time for trials and/or dosage modifications.*
5. Contact the Airline: If flying, there are often specific requirements regarding cold/heat tolerances as well as cage specifications. To have your pet to travel in the passenger compartment with you, early arrangements are often necessary.
6. Car restraint: If traveling by car, determine if a crate is appropriate. In most cases having your pet constrained will greatly increase his safety and reduce the risk of escape. If not, consider using a safety device designed to prevent injury in case of accident.
7. Plan your stops: If traveling by car & an overnight stop or stops will be necessary, find “pet friendly” hotels/motels along the way & make reservations.
DURING THE MOVE:
1. Moving day: Especially if strangers are packing your belongings, place your pet in a safe, quiet & secure place so that he cannot escape.
2. Water: Pack plenty of fresh water from home or bottled water. Finicky pets or those at risk of dehydration may be less apt to drink water with an unusual taste or smell.
AFTER THE MOVE:
1. Check the surroundings: Insure both the inside and outside environments are safe and free from hazards.
2. Acclimate your pet: The transition may lead to problems such as loss of potty training/litter box use, territorial behaviors & stress/anxiety behaviors. Of particular concern is how to reintroduce free roaming cats to the outside. There are many resources with acclimation tips:
3. Choosing a new vet: Ask friends, neighbors and relatives for a recommendation. Visit the facility & meet the doctor(s).
For international moves, or other moves that are significantly complex, there are companies that can greatly facilitate your move. Some examples are:
Air Animal Pet Movers: http://www.airanimal.com/
Animal Land, Inc.: http://www.petmovers.com/
AirVets Pet Relocation: http://www.airvets.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Michael Boyarin is a companion animal veterinarian with over 20 yrs. experience working with dogs, cats & their “human” parents. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida with a BS in Zoology in 1988, Michael continued his education at Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine where he obtained his DVM in 1992. He currently practices in Jacksonville, FL. Because of his strong belief that well informed owners are best able to enhance their pet’s well-being, Michael actively supports and encourages client education.