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Preparing Your Pet Before A Move

Published on: June 30, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

yorkies in a strollerMoving can be exciting, but it’s a lot of work. And if you think you’re frazzled, how do you think the situation looks to your beloved cat or dog? Everything is in an uproar – your house is a mess, boxes everywhere, strange people keep coming and going. It’s not as if you can explain it all to them. Yet you love them dearly, and the last thing you want is for them to be upset.

Take heart. There are steps you can take to prepare your pet before a move.

Preparation starts early

If you’ll be crossing any border – state-to-state or off to another country – your cat or dog will need to have a current rabies vaccination and health certificate. You may never be asked to show it at a state border, but it could happen. And if you’re moving internationally, you will definitely need those items and more in the way of documentation for your pet.

So let’s talk about health

Is your cat or dog ready physically for a move? Schedule a visit with your vet as soon as you know you’ll be moving. If your pet is elderly or has chronic health issues, that may affect their ability to move. You want to be sure they're up-to-date on all vaccinations, and depending on where you’re headed they may need additional immunizations or tests to meet pet import requirements. Your vet is an essential ally in all this.

If you’re moving to another state, your vet will probably have the paperwork you need on hand. However, any international move (or a move to Hawaii) requires you to learn specific requirements of your destination and then work with your vet to meet them. Some pet import requirements take months to complete and can only be done at certain times, which is why it’s so important to start this process right away. Without the right paperwork, your pet could be turned away at your point of departure or, even worse, your destination.

The comfort of “home” in transit

Pets recognize their home by the sights and smells. You and your belongings are there. Their bedding, bowls and toys are there. For travel, your pet will have to leave the safety and security of this known environment, and that’s a major stressor for both dogs and cats. You can prepare your pet for this by acclimating them to the travel kennel well in advance of your move, so they have plenty of time to check it out and make it their home.

Encourage them to play in it, with toys and treats. Put their favorite bedding inside and encourage them to sleep in it.

Note that if your pet will be flying, they will need a hart plastic (or wood) non-collapsible travel kennel that meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines. You'll have to measure your dog to be sure you’re purchasing the proper size kennel.

Prepare for the movement of transit

Dogs are often used to riding in the car, but cats rarely go anywhere with you. If you have a dog, they may not be used to riding in a carrier inside the car. So along with helping your pet become “one” with their travel kennel, you want to get them used to traveling in it. Start with short trips, and gradually take longer ones. Even if your pet will fly to their new destination, they'll be more comfortable knowing their kennel is a safe space even when moving around and surrounded by strange sights and sounds. You can even take it a step further and bring your pet for a ride to the car wash so they can get some exposure to new sounds and sights.

Demonstrate calm

It’s not easy to remain calm when you’re juggling all the activities necessary to accomplish a move. But your pet can pick up every nuance of your behavior – sometimes they can read your mind, right? So you owe them extra effort during this busy time. The less frazzled you are, the less anxious they will be.

Spend plenty of time with them, playing, taking walks and simply hanging around together. Do everything you can to maintain a regular routine, so their life isn’t entirely disrupted by your preparations for moving. And recognize that they may act out their concerns by being more reclusive or clingy than usual – that’s simply their way of processing everything that’s happening around them.

Doing these things will help prepare your cat or dog to move. They may not be stress-free, but they will be better able to take things in stride.

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.