A dog sits next to a moving box full of dog toys

How to Prepare Your Pets for a Long-Distance Move

Long-distance moves tend to require a lot of coordination for all members of the family, including the furry ones! Moving with pets can be a stressful experience, and when you add on extra miles, whether it’s by plane or a cross-country drive, the process can be even more traumatizing. However, with some thoughtful planning and patience, it’s possible to move long-distance with your cat or dog and keep stress levels low.

If you're moving long-distance with a pet, you can follow a few key steps to make sure they're safe and happy throughout this big change.

How Do I Move My Pet to Another State?

Whether you decide to travel with your pet or send them on their own with a pet relocation company, it’s important to prepare well in advance. First, there are several housekeeping items that are important to check off your list before moving long-distance with a pet.

Check Pet Laws at Your Destination

Pet laws vary from state to state and from species to species. If you are moving between any of the contiguous states in the USA, you will need to acquire the following:

  • Microchip (recommended)
  • Current rabies vaccination (recommended)
  • Current Fit to Fly Health Certificate, also known as the APHIS 7001 form

These requirements cover the basics for moving your pets to a different state. However, there are more stringent rules for the state of Hawaii, and if you do not follow them, your pet will be required to complete 30-120 days of quarantine upon arrival:

  • Microchip (required)
  • Current rabies vaccination (required)
  • OIE-FAVN rabies blood test
  • Veterinary credentials
  • Import documentation

Update Your Pet’s Information

Before you have arrived at your new home, you will need to update your mailing address to ensure that all mail arrives at the proper place. This applies to your pets, as well! Update your pet’s ID tags, microchip registrations, and any other identification with your new address to keep them safe and returned to you as soon as possible if they get lost.

Steps to Prepare for Moving Long-Distance with a Pet

Now that you have completed everything you need to legally relocate your pet to your new home, it’s time to consider something else before your move: your pet! Most animals thrive with familiarity, and while they are often quick to adapt to new routines, you can make the entire moving process easier on your pet by keeping their unique needs in mind.

Take Your Pet for a Vet Appointment Before Moving

This one is for pure peace of mind, as well as convenience. It’s easier, after all, to deal with a local vet while you’re still at your old place instead of trying to find a vet in the middle of getting settled. You can make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines while you get a fresh copy of your pet’s medical records. 

There’s another reason to start with a veterinary appointment, though: all your pet’s health issues will arise during a move. The stress of moving environments is a huge tax on your pet’s immune system. A vet appointment prior to leaving will make sure you catch any underlying health issues first, while making sure your pet doesn’t have any conditions or parasites that would further compromise their immune system.

Pack Multiple Meals & Snacks in Sandwich Bags

Portion out multiple meals into individual plastic bags for easy portioning on the road. Make sure to use the same treats and pet food you’ve been feeding your pet. A road trip is the worst time to introduce your pet to a new diet that could have a, shall we say, unfortunate effect on their stomachs.

Portioning out the food for the trip also ensures that you won’t run out of your dog’s preferred food on the way. Trust us, you don’t want to look for suitable dog treats at a gas station. 

Keep a Pet-Friendly First Aid & Medical Kit

If your pet takes medication or has health problems, you’ll definitely want a custom first-aid kit for any problems that might come up on the road. If you anticipate the possibility of a medical emergency, you might even want to note where there are notable veterinarians on your route. That way, if you need to make an emergency stop, you’ll know where to go and how long it will take to get there.

Plan Frequent Walking & Bathroom Breaks

This one mostly applies to dogs, but it could also apply to cats or rabbits if your animals are used to running around. Your pets (and you) could benefit from stretching your legs on a lengthy trip. Make sure to take plenty of breaks to let your dog take a bathroom break and walk around. Keeping your pet physically engaged helps keep them calm during the car trip and contributes to their overall health and well-being. 

However, if you have an indoor cat, you can skip the outdoor breaks. Just make sure to give them a litter box. 

Update Your Pet’s Tags (& Get a Microchip)

If you’re traveling on a multi-day trip across the country, you have to face the risk of losing your pet on the way. The best way to find or keep track of potential runaway pets is with ID tags with your name and phone number, or microchips. Before you leave, update your pet’s tags or microchip with the new address, and put it on as you’re leaving. 

Figure Out Where Pet-Friendly Hotels Are

If you plan on stopping for the night, make a list of pet-friendly hotels and motels along the way. That way, you’re not just leaving your pets in the car while they’re on a (to them) big and scary trip. Having them with you will help them keep calm, lower their stress, and be better overall for their health. 

The best thing you can do is make sure you bring their bed or kennel with you into the hotel room—having that small piece of home, that bit of normalcy, is vital for pets.

Keep Your Pet Safe

There are lots of things happening during a long-distance move, from packing to driving and flying. You and your pet will be spending a lot of time with open doors, lots of changes, and even more new places. You can keep your pet safe throughout the move by keeping them secure on moving day, whether it’s in a spare room or with a family friend, and by putting on a leash at pit stops.

Bring the Scent of Home

Keep your pet’s mental state in mind just as much as their physical safety. Bring their favorite toys along for the ride (unless they’ll be traveling by plane cargo, in which case they shouldn’t have any hard items in the crate with them to avoid injury). Another option is to bring an unwashed towel or shirt to keep in their crate that reminds them of a more familiar space.

Moving with Pets? Trust a Professional Southern California Moving Company

When you’re moving long-distance, the best way to stay stress-free is by hiring a professional moving company like Affordable Quality Moving and Storage. We have moved thousands of homes and businesses since 1996, and we look forward to taking care of everything for you so that you can focus on what matters: your family.

For more information on how we can make your move easier, contact Affordable Quality Moving and Storage at (661) 622-2636.