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When making your moving plans, don’t forget to include your beloved pets. Although they present a new set of challenges, it doesn’t have to add to your stress if you take the following steps before your big move.

Visit the Vet
Schedule a pre-move visit with your veterinarian for a checkup and to make sure that all vaccinations are current. Use this time to get copies of your pet’s records, a recommendation for a veterinarian in your new location, and possibly a tranquilizer to give your pet during transportation.

Research laws in new area
Research the requirements regarding animals in your new locality. Nearly every state has laws regarding entry of dogs, cats, horses, birds and other pets. For example, most states require interstate health certificates for dogs and horses coming from another state. If you own an exotic animal such as a ferret or potbellied pig, check to see if it is allowed as a pet in your new city. Some states require an entry permit. You can obtain compliance information from the state veterinarian or other appropriate authority. It’s important to get this information well ahead of your move so that you can get any necessary examinations or documents.

Make sure your pet’s identity and rabies tags are current. You should also have a special travel identification tag just in case they become lost during the move. The tag should include the pet’s name, your name and new address, and an alternate contact.

Decide on transportation mode
Decide how you will be transporting your pet. Animals are not allowed on moving vans, so your choices are by car or air.

By car
If traveling by car, the American Animal Hospital Association suggests that you take your pet on short rides before the trip so that he can get accustomed to the movement. The day of the trip, don’t feed your pet for several hours before departure. It’s also a good idea to take him on a long walk before heading out.

Pack a travel kit to include food, food and water dishes, can opener, scooper, paper towels for clean ups, and plastic bags. You may also want to include a blanket to cover your car seats, plus treats and a favorite toy.

If you are traveling with birds or other small pets, such as a hamster, make sure they are in a stable cage with proper ventilation. A kennel for cat or dog may also be a good idea.

If your trip will require an overnight stay, find out well in advance of your trip whether pets are allowed at the lodging of your choice. The website www.petswelcome.com is a great place to search for lodging that accommodates pets.

By air
Traveling by air definitely requires preplanning. Each airline has its own policy regarding pet transportation. In addition, there are federal requirements you must follow. For example, dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and weaned for at least five days. In addition, cages and containers must meet certain standards.

You need to decide if your pet will accompany you in the cabin or be checked as baggage, or shipped separately by air freight.

Check with your airline to make sure that pets are allowed to travel in the cabin and obtain guidelines. The U.S. Federal Animal Welfare Act requires that pets traveling in the passenger cabin be in a carrier that can fit underneath the seat without blocking the main aisle. The container must remain stowed the entire flight.

If your pet will be transported as baggage or by freight, make shipping arrangements as far in advance as possible so that space can be reserved. It is recommended that you schedule a non-stop flight on a weekday. You also need to supply the air carrier written instructions for food and water.

Other precautions to take when transporting your pet by air include:

  • Before traveling, get your pet accustomed to the kennel in which it will be shipped.
  • Don’t give your pet solid food six hours prior to the flight. Providing water a few hours before the flight is advisable.
  • Write your contact information on the container and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information.

The Federal Aviation Administration (www.faa.gov) and Department of Transportation’s (http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov) websites have valuable information regarding traveling with pets.

Transitioning to new home
Once you are in your new home there are some things you can do to help ease the transition for your pet. If you have a dog, take him for a walk immediately so that he can become familiar with the new area. Cats, on the other hand, have a tendency to run away searching for their old home. They should be kept indoors for several weeks until they become comfortable in the new home and familiar with its scents and noises.

Veterinarians also advise that you bring water from your old home, because a change in water sources can sometimes cause your pet to become sick.

Like humans, pets are can become stressed when change occurs. By planning ahead, you can help to make sure your pet has a smooth transition to its new environment.


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