Pet Relocation: The top four things to consider

Two dogs stick their heads out the car window.
By: The Pet Airways Team
For Pets Best Insurance

If you’re getting ready for a big move to a new city or a new state, you already know there are a gazillion things to take care of and remember. But if you’re moving with a pet, that makes it a gazillion and one – at least. At the risk of making your to-do list for relocation even longer, here are 4 things you shouldn’t forget when you’re moving and have to travel with your pet.

1. Microchips
If you haven’t already microchipped your pet, now is a perfect time to consider it. About the size of a grain of rice, each microchip contains a unique identification number assigned to your pet, and is implanted just under your pet’s skin. If your pet is lost and found by a shelter or local authority, the chip can be scanned and your pet’s identification information traced to you.

Most vet offices, humane societies and animal shelters have microchip readers. Implanting the chip takes just a few seconds, and no anesthesia is necessary. The primary benefit of microchip identification over a collar or tag is that the chip can’t be removed, fall off or get lost.

Of course, the registration information needs to be current! So if you’re microchipping your pet just before moving, make sure to use your new address – and if your pet already has a microchip, remember to update the address information with your registry keeper.

2. Is Your Car Safe?
Whether you’re flying with your pet, or driving all the way to your new home, make absolutely certain your pet is secured safely. While most of us wouldn’t think of driving off in the car without a seat belt, we don’t always think about our four-legged fellow travelers.

According to, letting your pet travel without a restraint poses dangers to both of you in the event of an accident. Even in a collision of only 30 mph, a 15-pound cat can cause an impact of more than 675 pounds. A 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,700 pounds, slamming into a car seat, windshield, or another passenger. It’s a terrifying thought! After a car accident, an unrestrained pet could escape and potentially cause a second collision, and a frightened or over-protective dog may not let strangers get close who are trying to help you.

Wherever you’re traveling, always use a pet seatbelt, or secure your pet and carrier in the cargo area of your vehicle.

3. Packing and Prep
Getting pets accustomed to a carrier in advance of the move is key, but so is getting your pets groomed for travel. Make sure your pet’s toenails are clipped so they won’t get hooked on the carrier door or other openings. You might also consider bringing your double-coated breed to the groomer or vet for professional undercoat removal. Removing dead undercoat will help your pet feel more comfortable especially in the summer months.

If your pet is flying to your new home, you’ll want to pack some luggage as well (carry-on, of course!). A one-gallon ziptop bag is the perfect size for 2 meals worth of food, any medications, a small toy or leash. Don’t forget your necessary medical documents including a health certificate, proof of rabies and other vaccinations.

4. The Transition Plan
If your pet has never been outside of the house, a big move can be especially challenging. Stress and fear can cause pets to run away after moving. If your new house has enough space, consider setting up a designated room just for your pet with food, water, toys, bedding and the travel crate. Keep your pet in this room for the first few hours or days after arrival with just short breaks outside for potty or walks.

Even a cat who is typically allowed outdoors should be kept inside for a few weeks. If your cat really, really wants to go out to explore, be sure you can monitor him. Once again, microchipping is a great precaution for that first trip outside.

Gradually socialize your dog in the new neighborhood. Start with short trips around the block – and make certain your first trips outside the house aren’t just to the vet’s office! Drives around the block, to the dog park or pet store will help your pet become familiar with unfamiliar surroundings.

A regular schedule of walks, meals, playtime and potty breaks will help you and your pet adjust quickly to life after a move.


  • checi

    In 3 weeks, I’ll be making a 1300 mile move with my adult daughter with 3 vehicles (truck towing car, daughter driving other car), 3 big dogs, 4 cats, 2 cockateils, 4 doves, 2 big comet goldfish and a giant plecostomus. I was hoping for a little more advice from your column but I guess when this trip is over, I’ll be the one people contact for advice on moving their pets.

  • Deborah

    When will you begin offering services to the San Francisco Bay Area?…and Hawaii? I’m hoping to move next year and will definitely need your services.

    • hrush

      Hi Deborah,

      Thank you for your post! Pets Best Insurance currently offers policies in all 50 states. For more information and to get a quote, visit or call us at 877.738.7237.

  • Edna J Glenn

    My pet transportation conundrum involves relocation from Seattle to Edinburgh, Scotland UK. I’ve been watching the success of your company carefully in hopes that you may one day offer flights from Seattle to the US East Coast or, ideally – dare I say it – directly overseas to the United Kingdom. I am certain there is a market for longhaul, foreign, pet travel. There are so many like myself who are unwilling to abandon our pets when we relocate.

    In any event, thanks so much for having started an airline dedicated to safe and reduced-stress pet travel.

  • Claudia

    My response is for Checi who replied to “Pet Relocation” on December 4, 2010. With all due respect Checi, I felt that the advice given by Pets Best Blog on relocating your pet was quite helpful. At most, people may have to relocate 2-3 pets belonging to the same species…perhaps even two species. In your case, you’ve relocated an entire zoo with the amount of pets you have. And yes, I would agree that upon completion of your relocation that you will have a lot of advice to offer on the subject. I hope that it all worked out for you.


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