Buying a home and relocating a family can be an unsettling and bittersweet experience. A lot of planning goes into the move to make sure family members, cars, and furniture get to their new location in one piece. Moving the family pet can take just as much thought and planning as the other family members, sometimes more.
An estimated 36% of American households have a dog, and about 32% of households have a cat. Families move all the time, so with the large number of pet-owning families relocating one is a pretty common process.
Let's face it; to many Americans, a pet is an important member of the family. As such, there are some important preplanning steps that will increase the odds of a pet arriving at their new home in good health, and thriving once they get there. Some of these preplanning considerations include:
We'll talk a bit more about each of these items in the sections below.
Relocating is a stressful event for humans, and unfortunately pets will be subjected to stress too. So a good place to start is with a healthy animal. Getting that clean bill of health is important to ensure they arrive at the new home in a healthy condition. In fact, many states and some countries require they have inoculation documentation and health certificates from a veterinarian prior to arrival at their destination.
Even when not traveling very far from home, a trip to the veterinarian is well worth the time or expense. A move from the big city out to the suburbs can subject a pet to new animals and habitat. While the new surroundings may be enthusiastically welcomed, their chances of contracting a disease are much higher too.
If the relocation plans involve considerably more travel time than a pet is accustomed to, then it might be a good idea to ask the veterinarian for a sedative or medication for motion sickness. Talk to them about the process of caring for a pet while relocating, and keep in mind that sedating an animal too heavily may do more harm than good.
As the pet makes its journey, it will encounter many strange and unfamiliar cities along the way. There will be stops, breaks, walks, and handling of the dog or cat during this journey. This handling creates those split-second opportunities for a pet to scamper off and run away. That's why it is so important to make sure it has a comfortable collar bearing identification information.
If a cat has never worn a collar before, don't wait until the day of the trip to introduce one. Give a cat two or more weeks to get used to the identification collar before the trip.
If it's possible, avoid traveling during weather extremes. If plans include summer travel, try to keep the animal out of the heat by traveling during the evening or early morning hours when temperatures are a bit cooler.
If traveling by airplane, make sure to read the airline's policy on pet travel. For example, owners are typically responsible for getting the right sized carrier or kennel. Make sure the one chosen meets the USDA and IATA regulations for both size and type. If the trip is a long one, then bring food, water, play toys, and even prepare feeding instructions for the airline personnel.
The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 provides for the safeguard of animals and pets while traveling by air. Some airline's viewpoint is they share in the responsibility of making sure a pet arrives safely. Others believe this responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the pet's owner.
If relocation plans involve air travel, make sure the airline is able to get the family pet safely to its new home. Talk to a representative of the airline and have them send their policy. Compare policies of several airlines, and make sure the carrier has a pet-friendly procedure; one that treats it in a kind and respectful manner.
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