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Relocating With Your Pets

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Moving is tough on everyone in the family, including your pets. Today we have a special guest post from an expert in moving, Art Gould of Self Storage Company, with tips on how to make the move easier and safer on your dogs and cats.

Pets on the Move: Essential Advice When Relocating Pets

About 99 percent of pets traveling with their owners report a smooth a trip, according to the Air Transport Association. So why is it that I seem to always run into the one percent of pet owners who are unhappy about their experiences? After talking to my umpteenth pet owner who was still traumatized by her relocation experience, I decided to compile my own list of tips.

  1. Consider using a pet relocation service, especially if you are traveling internationally. I didn’t know that such a thing existed until I was chatting with a tenant recently as she stowed her cat carrier in her self storage unit. Moving to Argentina for a year, she felt she could not live without her cat, but she found a pet relocation service to handle the trip there and back again. The pet relocators found out what vaccinations her cat needed, and even provided a veterinarian to take care of the vaccinations and sign her cat’s health certificate. She didn’t want her cat to be implanted with an identification microchip, but if she had wanted a microchip, the vet from the pet relocation service would have taken care of that as well. I started researching pet relocation services and discovered that many keep careful track of which airports require pets to be quarantined, for how long, and for what reasons. They can help pet owners plan ahead to minimize any possible quarantine. Of course, you can do this yourself, but having pet relocators handle it can certainly provide you with some peace of mind.
  2. Don’t travel by air if you can avoid it. This may sound like such extreme advice, but it is what the ASPCA recommends. Air travel is extremely stressful for pets as they must usually travel in the cargo hold. If you must travel by air, book a direct flight and make sure that your pet is wearing identification on a collar and/or clearly written on the outside of the travel kennel. In addition, if you have one, tape a photo of your pet to the outside of the kennel. This is in the case your pet should choose to escape, airline personnel will know who they are looking for. Finally, tape a zip lock bag of food to the outside of the travel kennel so that airline personnel have something to feed your pet in case of a delay. In addition, do what you can to minimize delays by traveling at less crowded times.
  3. If you are traveling by air, look for a pet-friendly airline. Be sure that your airline provides for animals to travel in a climate-controlled part of the aircraft. In parts of the aircraft that are not climate-controlled, the temperatures can become too extreme and may endanger the health of your pet. A few animals are small enough to qualify to travel with their owners in the cabin, but be aware that very few animals meet the strict airline requirements for in-cabin travel. In addition, check to see if your airline has kennel facilities to hold pets during layovers or delays. Some airlines do have kennel facilities at their main hubs. At these kennels, pets can be checked on and provided with food and water during layovers.
  4. Be aware that some airlines will not accept pets who have been sedated. Well-meaning pet owners often sedate their pets for travel, hoping the pet will simply sleep through the trip. This is an understandable sentiment, but it can cause some tragic results. I spoke with a man once who told me that he had to reschedule his relocation from Seattle to New Orleans because his dog was rejected by the airline when he answered “yes” to the question, “has your pet been sedated?” The reason that airlines often will not accept sedated pets is that sedation can suppress a pet’s respiratory functions – airlines do not want to risk a pet dying in their custody.
  5. Take time to let your pet become used to the travel kennel before going on a trip. Try keeping the kennel out at home for several weeks before the trip, putting treats inside it from time to time to entice your pet to go in. This way, when your moving day arrives, the kennel will not be a scary, unfamiliar place. Also, make sure that your pet’s kennel is large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. This is a requirement of the Animal Welfare Act. Would you be comfortable spending 12 hours in a space that wasn’t big enough for you to turn around?
  6. Keep track of your moving expenses, including pet relocation expenses. If you are moving for a change of job, your pet relocation may be tax deductible. Ask your accountant.
  7. If you can possibly avoid it, don’t travel with a pet who is too sick, too old, or too anxiety-prone to go through the stress of travel. Traveling may be stressful for you, but it is much worse for your pet. They have no idea what is going on or why he or she is being crated in a small box, separated from you, and put on a moving vehicle for who knows how long (you may know how long your trip will be, but your pet certainly doesn’t!). Some pets, like some people, have a particularly hard time handling the stress of travel. For example, snub-nosed dogs (such as English bulldogs) have delicate respiratory systems, and can have trouble breathing when they are frightened or upset. For these pets, a long trip across the country, or worse yet a trip to another continent, may be too much.

Often, traveling with your pet in unavoidable. Therefore, it is job as their caretakers to make sure it is as comfortable and stress-free as possible!

Art Gould is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a Maryland self-storage locator. Though busy, Art enjoys meeting new people and clients when traveling to sites, like the Baltimore self storage center.


Paris Permenter
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