What do I Need When Moving With Pets to a New State?

Posted By Courtney Price Davis on February 22, 2017 at 10:46 am
What do I Need When Moving With Pets to a New State?

Answers to common questions about moving with pets.

A new tool from GoodCall® makes it easier to plan when you’re moving with pets.

Moving across state lines can be a complicated process. There are always new laws and regulations, including for animals. Every state has a different set of rules about when and how pet owners can bring their cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, rabbits, and horses.

GoodCall’s new State-by-State Guide to Moving with Pets gives a breakdown of import laws for each state and type of pet. The majority require some form of veterinarian inspection before the move and generally require rabies vaccinations for animals that are old enough, though the age varies by state.

In addition to looking up new laws, experts recommend taking other steps to make moving a better experience for your pets. Here are a few frequently asked questions:

What should I do for my pet before the move?

Get all of your animal’s health records together, and check to see which one’s you’ll need when moving to your new state.

Dr. Jim Lowe, technical services veterinarian for Tomlyn Veterinary Science, suggests getting your pet ready several days in advance.

“Keep your pet’s crates out in the open with their favorite toys leading up to a move to help them become more comfortable with being in and around crates for a long period of time,” he says. “That way, when moving day arrives they’re not so hesitant to be put in the crate.”

What should I pack for my pet on the road?

Pack plenty of food, water, and any medication – enough to last beyond the expected length of your trip. You never know what might cause extra delays on the road when moving with pets, so it’s better to have more than you think you’ll need.

If you do have to stop to buy extra food, be sure to get the same kind. New foods usually lead to upset tummies, and that’s not a problem you want to have on your moving day.

Portable food bowls can make things easier, since they can usually collapse for easy storage. A litter box inside a plastic storage container might be a good idea for your cat if your trip is very long. Comfort items like toys, beds, or blankets will also make your fluffy friend happier.

And of course, be sure to have a leash and collar with an ID tag, says Dr. Judy Morgan, an author and veterinarian who specializes in holistic care.

“Take vaccination records, as technically, any time you cross a state line you can be asked for proof of vaccinations (although this is rarely enforced),” she says.

Should my pet be crated in the car?

For your pet’s safety and your own, be sure to restrain animals in the car. Crating or using a seatbelt harness will stop your buddy from falling off a seat when you slam on the brakes (risking potential injury). It will also help you keep your focus on the road; a roaming pet can climb up to the front seat or rummage through bags, distracting you from driving.

“Animals are unable to brace themselves against swerves and turns, which can cause them to be thrown against dashboards, windows or floors,” said Dana Humphrey, known as The Pet Lady. “In addition, The American Automobile Association estimates pets moving about in cars as the third worst distraction while driving. Please keep your pet confined at all times!”

How often should I stop while driving with a pet?

When moving with pets, you’ll have to adjust your traveling time to account for plenty of stops along the way. A good rule of thumb is to take a break every four to six hours. But you know your pet best; if he needs more frequent potty breaks, plan accordingly. Also, be sure to offer plenty of water during your stop.

Cats generally shouldn’t be taken out of their crates because of the high risk of escape, but should be given water periodically and maybe offered a treat.

How can I help my pet who hates car rides? Should I sedate my pet?

Try distracting your pet with a new toy. Bring along items that make him comfy, like his bed or favorite blanket. Make sure he gets plenty of air, either with the air conditioning or by rolling a window down.

“Try not to make him squeeze into the floorboard or at the very back where luggage could potentially fall on him,” Lowe says.

If your pet is very anxious, dark crates or tight shirts can sometimes help him feel safe.

“There are many products on the market that can help calm nervous pets, including pheromone sprays, coats or cloaks, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, and anti-nausea supplements,” says Morgan. “Sedation should be used as a last resort.”

For the most extreme cases, talk with your vet about options.

What is a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection?

The Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is a document from your vet that shows your animal is in good health and carries no infectious or communicable diseases. Most states require animals have a CVI or other similar health certificate before crossing state lines. A few states don’t require a CVI for cats and dogs: Arizona, California, Georgia, Maine, Montana, and Texas. Illinois and Michigan require CVIs for dogs, but not for cats, and Washington doesn’t require CVIs for household pets with a current rabies vaccine.

What should I know about flying with a pet?

Most airlines have their own restrictions on traveling with pets. Check online for details about specific guidelines and requirements.

“If possible, fly direct to your destination to avoid the added stress of your pet having to change planes,” Lowe says. “Invest in a carrier that will make your pet feel safe and comfortable, and attach and ID tag with all of your information.”

Don’t feed your pet right before the flight, either, in case he gets motion sickness.

Courtney Price Davis
Courtney has a journalism degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked at newspapers and magazines as a reporter, designer, copy editor and managing editor. She started a weekly newspaper at age 23 and was executive editor of Lake Norman Publications outside of Charlotte, N.C.

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