Planning a long-distance move? From creating your inventory list to setting up transportation and packing up your home, there’s likely a lot on your plate. And it can feel extra overwhelming if you have a dog, cat, or other pet that’ll be part of the move.

Here, we’ll review our top tips to keep in mind (and keep your sanity) while preparing for your long-distance move with your pets.

Get a Check-Up

First up: schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as you can. Keep in mind if you’re overdue on vaccines or recommended testing, you may need a few appointments prior to your move, so plan for these well in advance. Your vet will determine what your pet may need and make sure you have a sufficient supply of any medications, like flea and tick treatments. Set up and stock up on everything that you can now, so you’re not rushing to find a new veterinarian when you get to your new neighborhood.

Additionally, if your pet isn’t used to traveling, you may want to ask your vet for advice. Cats are particularly sensitive to the vibrations of cars and planes, which can cause stress and anxious behaviors. Your vet might prescribe calming supplements or treatments in some circumstances.

Now is also a great time to double-check your pet’s ID tag and microchip them, if they aren’t already. Make sure all your contact information is up to date, including your cell phone (not your old home phone!). For smaller animals, purchase a luggage tag for their crate and list your contact information there.

Do Your Research

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, make sure you do all your research! Airlines, for example, have different rules on when your pet can be in the cabin with you, when they need to be placed in the cargo hold, and what kind of carrier you need. Before you book your flight for yourself and your family, look into the airline’s rules and contact them for more information.

Here are some examples of airline policies, direct from their websites:

Alaska Airlines

  • Space for pets in both Alaska’s cabin and the cargo compartment is subject to availability, so the airlines recommend calling prior to booking your flight to get more information and determine fees.
  • Some calendar restrictions – pets not allowed in baggage or cargo compartments during holiday travel periods.

United Airlines

  • You can bring pets on board in a kennel for an additional $125 service charge each way, depending on the space available. Their PetSafe program is designed for larger animals that aren’t eligible to travel in the cabin.
  • A health certificate is required, and you can’t travel within 30 days of your pet’s rabies vaccination. Puppies and kittens must be at least four months old.
  • You can indicate you’re bringing a pet through your online reservation, or call them for information. Similar to Alaska’s policy, this is dependent on the space available.

Consider Your Supplies

Once you have your transportation plans booked, start making a list of the supplies you’ll need.

Examples include:

  • Water and travel bowl
  • Food and special treats
  • Poop bags
  • First-aid kit geared toward pets
  • Medications and copies of vet records
  • Cleaning supplies and rags (in case there’s an accident)
  • Similar to your own packing checklist, include these items for your pet to ensure you have everything you need prior to moving day.

%name How to Move Long Distance with Pets

Spotlight On Pre-Move Training

Another important tip is to do some training beforehand to get your pet familiar with their crate and traveling in the car if you’re driving.

Getting Comfortable with Their Crate

Purchase the crate well in advance of your moving date, so there’s plenty of time for them to get used to it. A few weeks or more is best. If your pet has never been in a crate before, they might be skeptical at first—that’s totally normal! Place the crate in a common area where he or she likes to spend time, and then add their favorite blanket, toy, or treat inside the crate. Allow them to sniff and explore at their own pace. You can also try feeding your pet inside the crate. For dogs, make sure you’re praising them every time they get in!

Once your pet gets more comfortable being inside the crate, try closing the door. Start by doing this when you’re at home, then progress to crating them when you’re out running errands. With time, your pet will understand that being in the crate is no big deal. They might even enjoy it!

Getting Comfortable with Being in the Car

Most dogs love a good car ride, but cats are a different story! To get your cat comfortable with riding in the car, try these tips:

  • Start with the tips above for getting your cat used to his or her crate. For safety’s sake, this is where they should stay at all times.
  • Even though your cat will be in his crate, try to create some positive connections to the car overall. Try placing your cat’s bed or favorite blanket on the back seat, so it smells familiar.
  • Get inside the car with your cat, close the door, and let him explore the car at his own pace. Share some high-value treats. Once he’s comfortable with that, coax him into his carrier and turn the motor on to get him used to the vibrations.
  • Continue the exercise with baby steps over the next few days or weeks, depending on how much time you have. Try driving the car to the end of the driveway and then stopping. Next, drive the car around the block. Go a bit further as he continues to get comfortable. Make every experience a positive one, with treats and pets at the end.

En Route

Moving day is here! By now, you should feel prepared and ready to travel with your pet. For dogs, consider starting your day with some exercise, whether that’s letting them run around the yard a bit, or dropping them off at doggy daycare for an hour to get some energy out.

If you’re traveling by plane, try to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight, to allow for any extra time needed for check-in. Most airports have designated pet relief areas, so be sure to visit those!

For long-distance drives, don’t forget to plan for potty and play breaks every three to four hours. Along the way, use a site like PetsWelcome o find pet-friendly hotels to stay at.

And of course, stay positive! Your pet will take the lead from you, so stay calm even if your plans change or challenges pop up.

Let FlatRate Help

You’ve got the pets taken care of; let us take care of the rest! With FlatRate, we offer best-in-class moving services and expert Moving Specialists to help you plan from start to finish. From the initial sales consultation to arriving at your new home we aim to give you a pleasant and stress-free experience. Contact us today for a free quote!

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