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Relocating with Pets
The new job is wonderful - the salary is great, and you love the
office. However, there happens to be a catch - it requires that you
move to another country. The place is lovely, and it is perfect for
your family. But can you take little Fluffy with you?
Will she be happy with the new place? Moving is a
difficult time for us, but what about our pets?
"Moving with your pet can be a challenge therefore it is
important to plan ahead," says Dr. M. A. Crist, clinical assistant
professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences. What are the things that one should know
before relocating with pets?
"It is important to focus on making their transition to their
new home smooth because an agitated pet can be scared and run away,
get confused and get lost, or be stressed and be destructive,"
Crist says. Her suggestion is to keep the pet confined before
and during the move, and then settling quickly into an everyday
routine after the move.
When talking about moving, what are the options for transporting
"It is important to make travel arrangements in advance to avoid
the unexpected," Dr. Crist says.
She suggests enquiring with travel agencies and pet
transportation services. These agencies take care of all the
shipping details - pickup, boarding, and delivery - for an
associated cost for pet insurance and transportation
Transportation of pets requires a lot of planning on the part of
the owner. For example, if you are planning on air travel, you need
to know the specific regulations of the air carrier.
"Puppies and kittens less than eight weeks of age are prohibited
from traveling by air transportation," Crist says. "Pets are
usually placed on the plane last so that they can be unloaded
first. Weather can be a concern and it is better to ship pets
during moderate weather and not in extreme heat or cold."
Large pets travel as air freight, small pets may be allowed to
travel in the passenger cabin with the owner, and those pets
travelling without their owners need to be shipped by air express
(usually rodents, birds, and tropical fish). These shipping
containers are available at pet stores and pet supply companies.
Crist recommends a strong container to withstand the pressure of
other freight accidentally toppling on it. She also suggests
choosing containers with good ventilation and a leak-proof
Other transportation modes require other precautions.
"If traveling by automobile, be sure to get your dog or cat
accustomed to riding in the vehicle," Crist
A travel kit with the pet's regular food and fresh water is
"Changing the drinking water suddenly may cause stomach upset in
some of our four-legged friends," Crist says. "A favorite toy,
treats, scooper, and plastic bags to clean up after your pet are
recommended as well."
The recommendations for transportation vary for different pets.
Crist recommends that fish should not be overcrowded in their
transportation containers, and the water temperature should not
Horses can be transported by air freight or a horse trailer
"Horse transportation agencies are available and even have
pick-up and delivery," Crist says. Birds are highly sensitive to
changes in wind drafts and temperature, not to mention being easily
frightened. "It is recommended to travel with the bird cage covered
but with plenty of ventilation. During transportation, remember to
have travel identification tags with the new phone number attached
to the pet's collar."
Dogs and cats can have this information on their collars, while
horses can have brands, tattoos, and registration papers, and birds
can have it on their leg bands, she says.
Most importantly, one needs to be aware of the health
regulations of the place you are moving to when transporting pets.
Pets need a health certificate after a veterinary examination, and
an international health certificate for international travel. These
certificates have expiration dates, and it is important to check
that the valid period has not expired before you
"Discuss with your regular veterinarian about recommendations
for a veterinarian in the new location and travel with a copy of
your pet's records," Crist recommends.
The new state or country may have different laws for entry with
a pet, and it is important to know these beforehand. There may be
standard border inspection at some places and random inspections at
other places. This is especially important for unusual pets like
snakes, lizards, monkeys, or wild animals.
"Communicate, well in advance, with the regulatory agency of the
final destination of the pet, prior to moving to understand all of
the requirements needed for that pet to be admitted to its final
destination," Crist advises.
At the new home, Crist recommends to confine the pets till they
are familiar with the new environment.
"Try to use the pet's same food and water dishes, blanket, bed,
and toys and try to place them in a similar location as they were
in their previous home," she says.
Relocating with pets requires extensive planning.
Sometimes, extra vaccinations and health documents are required six
months in advance of the actual move. So, it is important to be
aware of the rules and regulations of the place you are moving
"It is best to make arrangements ahead of time," Crist advises
so that both you and Fluffy can have a stress-free
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