|Keep some form of identification on
the pet at all times and be sure you have current pictures along with a written
description available. This will reduce a lot of stress should your pet escape. If the
length of the move requires the animal be provided with food and water, be sure the food
is bland and easily digested and that the water comes from your home supply. Changing diet
or water sources are common causes of diarrhea and vomiting from upset stomachs. If in
doubt, check with your veterinarian for food recommendations.
|Prior to moving, schedule a visit
with your veterinarian for a thorough physical exam, making sure all vaccinations are
current, especially the rabies vaccination. While at your veterinarian's office, get
copies of your pets' records and check to see if he can recommend another veterinarian at
your new location. You can also call the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) at
(800) 883-6301 for the names of AAHA veterinarians near your new home.
|If your pet is on any medication be
sure to have an ample supply so you won't run out before getting settled in your new
location. Also discuss with your veterinarian whether your pet should be tranquilized
during the move. If so, get enough to try it out prior to the move to be sure the dosage
|Since each state has different laws
and regulations regarding the importation of animals and some counties and municipalities
have their own ordinances, check with a veterinarian in the new area to be sure your pet
complies. It is important to do this several weeks before your move to allow time for all
paper work to be completed.
|Temperature extremes should be
avoided. In most cases, it's best to transport your animal in a sturdy, insulated carrier
to help regulate the changing temperature. Never leave a pet in a hot car during the
summer time or a cold car in the winter.
|If you are transporting the pet by
plane, try to book a direct flight to minimize the time the animal may be sitting outside
the plane in inclement weather conditions. Some airlines provide counter-to-counter
service so your pet will be carried on and off the plane by an airline employee. While
this service costs a little more, it may be worth it for your peace of mind.
|Cats are notorious for getting into
trouble during the moving process since they are particularly sensitive to stress.
"Stress for a cat involves three things," says animal behaviorist and
psychologist, John Wright, author of Is Your Cat Crazy? "It involves reaction
to novelty -- cats don't like novelty. They like sameness. It involves reaction to
unpredictability -- cats don't like events to be unpredictable. The third thing is the
degree of control -- cats don't like to be out of control. When you move, you have a high
degree of all three, until things settle down."
|For these reasons it is particularly
important to maintain your cat's normal routine. During the move itself, keep your cat
confined to one room with food, water, a litter pan, some favorite toys, and the carrier
you plan to use so your cat can get used to it. The door should be locked or have a large,
"Do Not Open" sign on it, so the movers won't inadvertently let the "cat
out of the bag."
|Transport your cat in a well
constructed cat carrier large enough to have room for food, water and a small litter box.
Upon arrival at your destination, place the cat and carrier in one secure room with at
least two doors between the cat and the outside. Open the door of the carrier and let the
cat decide when to come out. Allow your cat to become acclimated to the one room before
releasing him to the rest of the house. If the cat scurries for cover when you open the
door, wait a day or two longer, then try again. Let the cat explore other rooms of the
house when it meets you at the door.
|If your cat is accustomed to going
outdoors, wait several days after arriving at your new home before letting the cat out,
placing him on a leash or harness for short exploratory trips. After 2 or 3 days of these
trips, you can begin to let your cat out on its own.
|Dogs are generally easier to move
than cats since they aren't as affected by the stress. A few special considerations to
keep in mind include being prepared to clean up after your dog at rest stops. Carry a roll
of paper towels and disposable plastic bags. Place a piece of paper towel over the solid
matter, and your hand in one of the plastic bags. Pick up the towel and solid matter and
pull the bag down over your hand and towel, turning it inside out. Then, twist, seal and
|If you have a small dog and plan on
flying to your new home, he may be able to fly with you in the passenger compartment if he
is small enough to fit into a carry-on bag that will fit under the seat. Check with the
airlines for details. If you are transporting a larger dog by plane, try to book a direct
flight to prevent your pet from having to spend long periods in a distant airport, and
have someone scheduled to pick up your dog at the other end.
|Never leave any pet in the car for
more than a few minutes. This is especially important during warm weather. If you are
carrying your dog with you in the car and plan to stop overnight, be sure to call ahead to
find a hotel that accepts pets.
|Birds need a health certificate to
enter most states and depending on the species may be required to have tests done for
certain diseases. Since these regulations can change, it is important that your present
veterinarian verify these requirements well in advance of your moving.
|If you will be taking your bird in
the car, maintain a warm, constant temperature since birds are particularly sensitive to
temperature changes. It is possible to carry the bird in its cage as long as you have a
cover for it to prevent drafts and keep the bird in a darkened setting to reduce the
bird's anxiety. If you have an excitable bird, it may be necessary to cushion the cage or
crate with a soft material to reduce self-inflicted trauma.
|Place slices of apple, grapes or
other fruit in the cage to supplement the bird's water supply and be sure they have
adequate places to perch.
|If you have a small number of fish
and are moving only a short distance, you can move them to their new location by using
plastic bags half filled with water and the other half with air. Place the bags in an
insulated container such as an ice chest or Styrofoam container to help maintain a steady
|For a larger number of fish or for
transporting over a greater distance, 5-10 gallon plastic containers can be used. First,
fill them with water (either salt or fresh water, depending on the type of fish) and
change the water often to remove any toxins that might leach from the plastic. On moving
day fill the containers half full with water and place the fish in the water, about 1-2
fish per gallon.
|If your trip is going to take more
than a couple of days, it's best to invest in some portable aerators to keep the water
well oxygenated. Do not keep the containers in the car overnight since the drop in
temperature is likely to be too severe.
|If you are going to ship a venomous
snake, it must be placed inside two sturdy boxes or a box inside a wooden crate. With
non-venomous ones only one box is needed. Be sure the containers are well insulated and
contain air holes for ventilation and are clearly marked with both the common and
scientific name of the species.
|If you are transporting your snake
in your car, be sure not to leave it in the car overnight. Take it into the hotel room (be
sure they allow pets), and let it soak for about an hour in the tub. (You will have to
|The easiest pet to move is a turtle,
which can be overnight expressed in a well cushioned, insulated box with air holes.
|American Tortoise Rescue, a
nonprofit organization founded to provide for the rescue of turtles and tortoises,
recommends using overnight mail. Be sure to write "Fragile, Live Cargo" and
"this side up" on the outside of the box to increase the chances of a softer
ride. You can also place leaves or grass inside the container for added cushion and to
give the box a more homey environment.
|Remember to keep the surroundings of
all reptiles moist but not wet. Dampening a cloth and placing it inside the container is
the best approach.
|Since there are some governmental
regulations regarding the shipment of reptiles, consult with A Fieldguide to Reptiles and
the Law by J. P. Levell.
|The best way to move small mammals
such as mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters is to keep them in the car with you and in
their normal container. Take their water bottle out to avoid it leaking and soaking the
bedding. At rest stops, check the animal and place the bottle back in the cage so it can
|Be sure to maintain a comfortable,
steady temperature even if it means parking your car away from the rest rooms to get it
under the shade of a tree. These little critters are comfortable at about the same
temperatures people are so if you are cold or hot, they are too.