Moving can definitely be a stressful undertaking - and not just for the humans in your family. When you're in the midst of relocating, take special care to minimize the stresses on your pets.

Which Mode of Transportation is Best?

First, decide how you're going to transport your pets. If you're relocating within the same city, moving your animals will be relatively simple. If you're moving a few hours away or more, then you'll be looking at a long road trip which can become arduous for everyone in the car. You may want to consider transporting your cats or dogs by air.

Most states have laws regarding the entry of dogs, cats, horses, and parrots. If you're moving interstate, contact the State Veterinarian of your new home state to find out what regulations apply to your pets. Take your pets to your veterinarian for check-ups and to obtain a health certificate (most commonly required for horses and dogs, and in some states, cats as well). Schedule this visit well in advance of your move, in case treatment is required for your pet to comply with state regulations.

Animals often become nervous when they see familiar objects being removed from the home and may try to run away. On moving day, keep your pets in a quiet location such as the bathroom. Empty this room before putting you pets in there, and make sure everyone knows that room is off-limits.

Make sure your pets travel with identification tags. The tag should include their names, your name and contact information, and the name and contact information of an alternative person in case you can't be reached.

Moving by Car

  • Cats in particular are prone to car sickness and long car journeys are usually very stressful for them. Ask your veterinarian about medication to help reduce your pet's stress.
  • Small animals such as mice and hamsters are easily transported in your car. Cover their cages with a cloth to help keep them calm.
  • If you're transporting fish, buy the appropriate containers from your pet shop.
  • Cover your car seats with an old sheet in case your larger animals become car sick. Bring along an old item of clothing with your scent on it, plenty of food and water, and a leash for rest stops.
  • Be prepared to stop frequently to help keep your larger pets stay calm.
  • Never let your dog or cat loose in a strange place. When you let them out at rest stops, always keep them on a leash.
  • If you're stopping at a hotel overnight, find out in advance if they'll be able to accommodate your pets.

Moving by Air

  • Make your pet's reservations well in advance, and get a shipping container a few weeks early so your pet can become familiar with it.
  • The container should be strong, sturdy and well-ventilated, with a leak-proof bottom.
  • Feed your pets six hours before flight time, and give them water two hours before.
  • Place a favorite toy and an old item of your clothing in the container to help comfort them.
  • Label the container clearly with the name and contact details of the person responsible for your pet at its destination.
  • Pets can be picked up within 90 minutes of the flight's arrival. Once you've dropped your pet off, let the person picking it up know the pet is on the way and give them the flight details.

Whether your animals travel by car or air, make sure they have plenty of familiar items to greet them when they arrive at the new home. Fresh food and water, a bed, litter box and other items will help them to more easily adjust to the move.