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Moving with Pets
As with all parts of the moving process, relocating your pet(s) can be a stressful endeavor- but it doesn't
have to be. Although you can't really prepare your pet for his new home in advance, you can prepare
yourself for life with your pet in a new place. Equally importantly, you can make your pet's transition as
easy as possible by planning ahead. Here are some easy ways in which you can make the move easier
on your pet and yourself.
- Visit the veterinarian before you leave. During this visit, have the vet check your pet's general
health to ensure that he will be fine during the trip (especially if it's a long trip). Get a copy of all
your pet's health records to take to your new veterinarian, and if possible, request the name of
a vet in your new town. When relevant, get all of the information you'll need to know about
sedating your pet for the trip or ask how to respond if your pet gets carsick.
- Keep your pet out of the way on moving day. On moving day, the door to your home will likely
remain open for significant amounts of time, which may encourage your pet to sneak out.
Moreover, when movers are navigating through your piles of boxes with limited vision, having a
pet underfoot can be dangerous for both the movers and your pet. Consequently, it is critical to
keep your pet safe during moving day by securing him out of the way, either in a bathroom, an
empty bedroom or your pet carrier. Remind everyone participating in the move where your pet
is so that nobody accidentally lets your pet loose.
- Find out whether you will need to reregister your pet. Certain places have strict pet
registration and vaccination policies. Contact state authorities (or governmental authorities if
you are moving overseas), and find out exactly what you need to do to make sure that your pet
is fully legal.
- Buy a new ID tag for your pet. If you know your new address in advance, order a new
identification for your pet's collar immediately. Doing so will make it easier to locate your pet if
he gets lost en route or in his new, unfamiliar surroundings.
- Find an animal-friendly hotel. If you will be stopping on the way to your destination or will be
staying at a hotel for the first few nights, make sure that the hotel is willing to accommodate
pets. Likewise, if you will be renting a home upon arrival, confirm with your landlord that pets
- Prepare your pet for the trip. Never feed your pet too much before a long trip or give it too
much to drink. When possible, take your pet for a long walk before the trip.
- Acclimate your pet to the pet carrier in advance. If you will be putting your pet in a pet carrier
for an extended period of time it will help significantly to get your pet used to the carrier ahead
of time. Let your pet spend a few minutes a day inside and make it as comfortable as possible
by adding familiar items if space permits. Also take care to choose a secure pet carrier as faulty
latches or weak material can prevent your pet from being transported safely and efficiently.
- Prepare for pet drop-off and pick-up when relevant. If possible, check with your local airport
and your destination airport about how and where to drop-off and pick-up your pet. The more
information you have in advance, the smoother the move will be. When moving overseas, your
pet may need to be quarantined for a period of time- knowing this in advance will enable you to
prepare yourself and your pet as best as possible.
- When traveling by car, make sure that your pet is secure. If your pet will not be secured in a
pet carrier, make sure that you have proper safety harnesses and that your pet is comfortable
being restrained in this way. If necessary, practice with the harness on short drives, so that your
pet will know what to expect. Never travel with pets in the trunk of your car or leave pets alone
in a parked car. When you get out to stretch your legs, allow your pet the same indulgence.
- Pack all the things that your pet will need during the trip. When taking a long car trip, make
sure that you bring sufficient food, water and treats for your pet. It is also recommended to
protect your car seats with an old sheet or blanket. Bring your pet's favorite toy and any
medication that he might need during the trip. Lastly, make sure to bring plastic bags and
cleaning supplies just in case your pet gets sick or has an 'accident' en route.
- Bring familiar objects with you. Chances are good that your pet will be confused or scared in
your new home. Make sure to bring familiar items in your carry-on luggage or make sure that
they are accessible immediately upon arrival so that your pet will acclimate as quickly as
Moving with fish presents an entirely different set of challenges than moving with larger animals does.
Before relocating your fish, consider whether it's more worthwhile to move the aquarium and supplies
and to invest in new fish. If your fish are reasonably priced or do not hold specific sentimental value,
you can avoid the hassles of transporting fish by simply replacing them upon arrival. Consider gifting
your fish to a friend in your old neighborhood.
Alternatively, many pet stores may be willing to take your fish- some even offer a nominal credit in
return, which can be used to purchase fish food or supplies for your aquarium.
If, however you choose to move with your fish, here are 8 tips that may be helpful:
- not transport fish in their aquarium. The best way to transport fish is in a Styrofoam
container that is lined with a plastic bag. Both of these items are available at most pet stores.
The plastic bag will protect the fish in case the Styrofoam gets perforated, and the Styrofoam
will keep the fish protected against bumps in the road and severe temperature changes. Make
sure that the plastic bag is pulled tight against the box, as a plastic bag that collapses on a fish
will have detrimental results. Plastic buckets may be a viable alternative to Styrofoam boxes,
but these buckets do not protect against temperature changes and are not ideal for long trips.
- Make sure to fill the travel containers properly. Whether you are using Styrofoam boxes,
plastic containers or even just plastic bags, make sure to fill them up with water from your
aquarium before you disturb the gravel.
- not feed fish within 24 hours of travel. This precaution will help prevent the water from
getting contaminated en route. You also do not need to feed the fish while you are traveling, as
eating in unnatural surroundings may bring unnecessary anxiety to the fish. You may be
surprised to learn that fish can survive without food for up to a week, so depriving them during
the move should not be harmful.
- Transport fish in a climate-controlled environment. Simply put, your fish should be
transported in the backseat of your car, rather than in the trunk.
- Consider a portable air pump when taking long trips. If you will be traveling for more than a
day or two, invest in an air pump that will circulate air for your fish. As is the case with humans,
a lack of sufficient oxygen is deadly for fish.
- Cover the fish tank to soothe the fish. Covering your fish during transport is especially
important when they are being transferred in a clear container, as the darkness will calm the
fish during transport. Still, even fish that are transported in a Styrofoam box can benefit from
the insulation of a blanket. Feel free to check on your fish periodically for signs of distress, but
remember that peeking too regularly may disturb their calm.
- Refill your aquarium with used water. You may be moving to a new home, but your fish will
feel most comfortable in the same water from your old home. Make sure to take at least 20% of
the aquarium's water with you. When possible, take more. Once the aquarium is set up in its
new home, place the gravel in before the water, as this will keep the water clean for the fish.
- Monitor your fish carefully upon arrival. It is normal for fish to struggle in their first few
moments in a new aquarium- even if their new 'home' is the same tank they'd been living in
previously. Put one fish at a time into the tank, and see how it reacts. If you see serious signs of
distress, remove the fish immediately and check the water temperature and water chemistry.
Make sure to monitor your fish for at least a week upon arrival in your new home, to check if
they've gotten ill along the way.