Even if you are moving to the next neighborhood over, your pets can get stressed out. First, they sense changes in the works even before implementation. They, just like people, get used to a certain situation. Changes are a stressor to humans and they are also a stressor to pets – more so because pets absorb the emotions that we are feeling and exuding.
A few assumptions: You’re moving within the U.S., you’ve already scoped out the neighborhood, determined that your area or association is allowing the pet you have, you’ve gotten your pet the necessary vet care with documentation, and you by no means feel that leaving your pet behind is an option. Now, all that is left to decide is what mode of travel will be appropriate and how to make sure your pet receives all necessities while in transit.
Planes Are the Last Resort
The most stressful way for your pet to travel is by plane. If you have a large pet, she will not be able to travel in the passenger area and will have to go in the cargo hold. Some airlines don’t allow pets at all and some require up-to-date paperwork for pets traveling in the passenger area. If you have a small pet, confirm with the airline that she can travel with you at your seat. While small pets may be safely stowed by your feet in a carrier, only service dogs can travel unencumbered.
If your pet cannot comfortably be stowed at your feet, you will have no choice but to use the cargo hold. Can you imagine what this would be like for her? You must do your homework on finding the best airline for pets in the cargo hold. Unfortunately, dogs have died in the cargo hold, even recently. They are jostled around and are often not handled with care. If you have a senior or ailing dog, she absolutely cannot travel in the cargo hold of a plane. You will have to find other arrangements for a dog that is in poor health.
Road Trips Are Best
Rediscover the country and forge a new bond with your furry companion. Pets usually love to be in the car. This means they are spending time with you and they see so many exciting things! The world is whizzing by for them.
This will be the easiest way to move your animals. You only need to have plenty of water and food available for them. Being in the U.S., you’ll always be a short distance from a store with pet supplies. Before setting out on your road trip, take your animal for half-hour or one-hour drives around the city. See how they fare. Do they have motion sickness? Do they love it or are they cowering in their crates? Sometimes it is difficult to plan ahead and make reservations for pet friendly hotels so make a list of the different chain companies that allow pets. Or call several hotels within a 30-mile-radius of where you plan to stop and ask them what animals, if any, are allowed.
Here are some tips on traveling with different animals:
- You can easily find a place to park and let your dog out. Always use a leash – do not ever let your dog walk without the leash in unfamiliar territory even if she is generally obedient. The leash is meant to protect her. Plus, there are not many things that are worse than losing your dog on your road trip.
- A cat can stay in a carrier for up to six hours. At the six-hour mark, you will soon have to figure out where you’ll be spending the night.
- Some fish can be moved; others will be very difficult to move. Determine whether your fish can make the move or if they should be rehomed. Goldfish and bettas may travel safely in a portable tank but you will still have to keep a close eye on them for they are fragile and become easily stressed.
- Some pets suffer from motion sickness. This is terrible for them – they vomit and pant and generally do not enjoy their time in a car. Consult with your vet on remedies for alleviating their discomfort. Don’t feed your sensitive pet in the morning; only feed them after you’ve stopped for the day.
- Reptiles, rodents, and rabbits travel in their cages. However, they easily escape – especially reptiles. Make sure they are always secure and do not take them out of their cages until you arrive at your hotel.
A New Beginning
When you reach your new home, expect that your pet will need time to become acclimated to the unfamiliar surroundings. Keep them secure until you yourself are familiar with the surroundings and know the layout of the area. Don’t let your cat out of the house. Don’t allow your dog to roam outside unless there is a secure fence or you are walking her on a leash. Try to find a new vet as soon as you possibly can. Congratulations! The most stressful part of moving is over and now you and your pet companion can enjoy the exciting adventure of decorating your home and discovering your city.
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.