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Moving Pets Across Country

Published on: October 5, 2023  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

white dog with head out car window

Moving pets across the country can seem like a daunting task. However, with proper planning and preparation, it can be a smooth and stress-free experience for both you and your furry friend. Whether you are relocating for a new job opportunity, moving closer to family, or simply embarking on a new adventure, taking your pet along can add a sense of comfort and familiarity to the journey.

Requirements for Pet Travel within the United States

Domestic pet travel within the United States is fairly straightforward, but some states may have differing requirements. In general, cats and dogs should have:

  • A current Rabies vaccination
  • A domestic health certificate dated within 10 days prior to travel

While not required for state-to-state travel, a microchip is recommended for all pets.

The following general vaccinations are also recommended for pets, and if boarding is needed, these will be required. 

  • Cats: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus & Panleukopenia (FVRCP)
  • Dogs: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza & Parvovirus (DHPP), Bordetella (Kennel Cough), Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) 

Air Travel within the United States

If you're wondering how to transport your furry companion across the country, you have two options: air or ground travel. However, it's crucial to note that many US airlines have tightened their regulations on pet travel in recent years, with some no longer accepting pets as cargo or checked baggage. To avoid any last-minute surprises, make sure to contact the airline well in advance to confirm their policies on pet transportation. Keep in mind that certain airlines may have specific restrictions based on breed, flight routes, and temperatures, so it's always wise to plan ahead and be well-informed.

Ground Transportation within the United States

In situations where there are no feasible flight options for your pet, it's important to consider ground transportation. This can be particularly beneficial for pets that fall into the snub-nosed or brachycephalic breed category (such as Pugs or Bulldogs), as well as older pets with pre-existing health conditions. Choosing ground transportation whenever possible ensures the comfort and well-being of your furry companion during their journey. 

Tips for Cross-Country Pet Travel

Whether you choose to take charge of your pet's domestic journey or enlist the help of a professional pet transport company, these valuable tips come into play.

  • Each state has its own set of rules when it comes to vaccinations and paperwork, so it's essential to schedule a visit with your pet's veterinarian well in advance. This ensures that your furry friend is up to date on all necessary vaccinations and obtains any required health certificates.
  • Investing in a sturdy and comfortable travel carrier that suits your pet's size and breed is of utmost importance. Taking the time to familiarize your pet with the carrier before the trip can help alleviate anxiety and make the journey more enjoyable.
  • Depending on the duration of the trip, don't forget to pack essential items like food, water, medications, and familiar toys to provide comfort during the long adventure.
  • It is not recommended to sedate your pet - especially if they are flying on an airplane. Sedatives can negatively impact your pet's breathing and respiration, especially at high altitudes. 
  • Research pet-friendly hotels and restaurants if you need to make stops along the way. 

By following these guidelines and being well-prepared, you can make moving your pet across the country a positive and memorable experience. With the right planning, your furry friend will feel safe, secure, and loved throughout the journey, allowing you both to embark on this new chapter together with ease and peace of mind.


Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.