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Long-distance move with a pet

Moving is very challenging for everyone involved, including your pets. Transporting them across vast distances or even an international border is quite the procedure. The whole process can take a lot of time, effort, and money. So make sure you prepare and plan a long-distance move with a pet on time! That is the best way to ensure a safe and stress-free relocation for you both because, with a good plan and the help of Dumbo NYC, you and your pet can have a smooth move together, even if you’re going somewhere far away.

Preparing for a long-distance move with a pet

Preparation is important for every relocation. But when you’re moving with a pet, it’s even more important to start planning and organizing in time. Pets have particular needs, different from that of a human being. And since your pet is entirely dependent on you for their health, safety, wellbeing, and happiness, you must take their needs very seriously.

Pug puppy.

Your pets depend on you to take good care of them.

Talk to your vet before anything else

Before you even start the practical considerations of moving long-distance such as organizing transportation, arranging for unpacking services, or renting out storage space, you need to take your pet to the vet for a check-up. Moving carries a lot of health risks for animals, not the least of which is stress. Therefore, your pet must be healthy enough to withstand moving long-distance, to begin with. Then, you must also make sure you are up to date with all vaccinations and have all the necessary documentation. Your vet can help with all this.

Gather the necessary documentation for a long-distance move with a pet

Before you move with a pet, you need to sort out all their documentation. This includes a valid pet passport, up-to-date health certificates, rabies tags, relevant permits for exotic pets and all other documents specific state or country laws may require. It is very important that you do your research on local requirements early on and gathers all the necessary documentation before moving because you may not be able to bring your pet with you otherwise.

Understand the risks

Moving with a pet, especially long-distance, can be difficult for the animal. Most animals don’t deal well with change or stress, both of which are an indivisible part of the relocation. For some species, such as fish, moving can even be deadly. So be aware of the risks:

  • your pet may experience a decline in health, either acutely or in the long run, especially for sensitive species, older animals and animals who already suffer from health problems
  • your pet may not adjust well to your new home
  • you may lose your pet or they may escape during transportation
  • in some cases, pet relocation can even be deadly

Take this into consideration when planning a long-distance move if you have a pet. Sometimes, the risks can be too great. So don’t entirely discount the idea of leaving your pet behind with a trusted friend or relative.

Cat playing with a fish bowl.

Relocation can be dangerous for some pets.

Executing a long-distance move with a pet

There’s a reason people keep pets: they make our lives better. But they can also make certain things more difficult or complicated. Moving long-distance is certainly one of those things. There are certain things you’ll need to do for your pet while moving that you otherwise wouldn’t need to worry about.

What to pack?

Your pets need their stuff, just like you do. You must, therefore, also pack for your pets when you’re packing for yourself. In general, this includes packing all their terrariums, aquariums or beds, toys, clothes and accessories, medications, and documents. But you also need to prepare a travel bag for them – things they will need during the trip to your new home. So pack some food and snacks, their favorite toy, meds, and sedatives you may need to use to calm them down, a portable litter box or something to clean up after them, and a leash to keep them on.

Dog on a leash during a long-distance relocation with a pet.

Bring an extra leash for your dog just in case.

Keeping your pet safe

Pets are vulnerable during relocation. They’re easier to spook and may try to run away. And depending on how you travel, they may even need to be separated from you for a while. So do everything you can to keep them safe or make them easier to find and return in case something does go wrong:

  • have a vet insert a microchip with your updated contact information
  • put a collar on your pet with tags that include their name, your name and your contact information
  • keep recent photos of your pet with you
  • always keep your pets on a leash or in a safe transportation unit

Keeping your pet healthy

Health is a major concern when moving long-distance with pets. Here are some things you can do during the move to avoid major problems:

  • limit food and water intake (but never to the point of starvation or dehydration)
  • consider sedating the pet for transportation, especially if they will be separated from you
  • take enough breaks for your pet to relieve themselves
  • make sure your pet is not overheating or freezing
  • try to make them comfortable and keep an eye out for signs of stress
Sleeping cat.

Consider sedating your pet during transport.

Keep stress to a minimum during a long-distance move with a pet

Stress has a multitude of adverse effects on health even for humans. For animals, it is much worse. So it is crucial to keep stress to a minimum when moving with dogs and other pets. You can do this by remaining calm (especially while interacting with your pet) and sticking to routine as much as possible.

Moving abroad with a pet

Sometimes, a long-distance move with a pet involves crossing borders. In case you are moving permanently overseas, it is certainly worth taking your pet with you. If you are, however, staying there only for a couple of months, don’t bother preparing everything for such a short period of time. It may be difficult to go without your furry friend for that long. But it will ultimately be less stressful, healthier and better for both of you if you leave your pet behind in these less permanent situations. In that case, you can entrust your pet to a friend or relative who will look after it until you come back.

A long-distance move with a pet to a different country comes with unique challenges

First of all, contact your new country’s consulate. Try to find out as much information as you can about the necessary documentation for moving overseas, quarantine, vaccinations, possible additional tests, how long the pet will be quarantined, any possible restrictions for importing pets into the country, any additional fees, and everything else you can think of. Call the consulate well in advance and check the rules of the country. It happens sometimes that vaccination is required a few months in advance. So gather all the necessary information at your earliest convenience.

Pet gecko.

Exotic and unusual pets may need special care during relocation.

After you have called the consulate, pay a visit to the vet. You will need to get a copy of your pet’s records, talk about the vaccination and get as many tips as you can about making this transition less stressful for your four-legged friend. Also, your vet will be able to give you more information about some other vaccinations that may protect the pet in a new country, administrating a sedative to the pet, feeding it before the journey, and even recommendations for vets in the new country.

Animal health considerations when moving abroad

Visit your vet to check on your pet’s health and take care of the paperwork before the move. You will certainly need your pet’s health certificate which will ensure that your pet is not infectious, is free of parasites, is vaccinated, doesn’t come from a place which is under quarantine for rabies and wasn’t in contact with a rabid animal in order to avoid possible risks for other people and their pets. After all, when it comes to transporting pets across borders, the main concern is the potential transmission of diseases. Also, find out if your new country requires a lengthy quarantine. If so, bear in mind that it can last up to six months and will cost you a lot of money.

Your pet’s health certificate should provide the information about the manufacturer, serial number, type and expiration date of the vaccine. In case the pet is younger than 3 months, the information about the rabies vaccination is not necessary since the pet is too young for vaccines still. This procedure is applicable in both scenarios, whether you are traveling by airplane or by car. However, do some further checks with your airline company if you’re flying. They may have some additional requests.

Flying abroad with your pet

In case you are flying with your pet, bear in mind that most airline companies will insist on a company with approval from the International Air Ttransport Association for transporting pets. Also, don’t forget to book space for your pet at least two days in advance since the number of pets per flight is limited. Small dogs or cats are exceptions to this rule. They are allowed to travel with you if their cage is small enough to fit under your seat, according to the policy of most companies. The other option is to send them in the heated and ventilated hold, which could be less confusing for them.

If their cage doesn’t fit under the seat, you should ship it as checked baggage. This might carry some health risks. So before booking a flight, get all the necessary information regarding the temperature and air pressure in the cargo. Also, get reliable cost estimates before booking a flight. You may be surprised at how expensive flying with a pet can be.

Dog lying on a floor.

Large pets won’t be allowed to fly with you.

Having done all the paperwork, start preparing your pet for this huge trip. Hoping for things to go smoothly is fine, but you should always prepare for potential problems anyway. So take several pictures of your pet and attach one to the carrier. That way your pet can be easily identified when you come to collect it. Purchase a collar and an identification tag with your personal information too. If something happens or your pet escapes, whoever finds them can then easily contact you.

After a long-distance move with a pet

The adjustment period after your long-distance move will be crucial for your pet. Just like you, they need to get used to a new home and settle into it. You should do everything you can to make that easier for them.

Make sure your new home is safe

The first thing you need to do when moving with a cat, dog or other pet that will roam your home freely is to make sure the place is safe for them. Check for any exposed wires, rodent traps, animal poison or other potentially dangerous things. Try to unpack as quickly as possible because all the moving boxes lying around certainly won’t help your pet get the lay of the land any faster.

Set a routine

Animals like routine. Ideally, you’d maintain as much of a routine as you can before, during and after the move to give your pet a sense of stability and normalcy. If you were unable to stick to a routine during the move, set one up as soon as you move in. Always feed and walk your pet at the same time and stick to the rules you set about what they are or aren’t allowed to do around the house.

Find a new vet and update your information

Once you move, you’ll need to find a new vet in the area. Your old vet may have had some recommendations or you can look up reviews online. Once you choose a vet, take your pet to them as soon as possible. You’ll want to check them out after the long trip to make sure they’re still healthy. While there, take the opportunity to update your contact information and address in their microchip and documentation.

Help your pet adjust and watch out for signs of stress after a long-distance move with a pet

Adjusting after a long-distance move with a pet is not easy on either you or your pet. But you can help each other out with the process! Be attentive to your pet’s needs, make sure they’re healthy, and let them roam around and explore the new space. Spending quality time with them will help them adjust and in turn ease your own anxieties. Take a walk in the nearby dog park or visit a pet-friendly event – you can both make new friends there! Together, you can make this long-distance move work.