All About Pets

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Tips to help pets handle a relocation

An unpredictable job market has forced many men and women to uproot their families and start over in another city. Such a move can affect all family members, including the family pet.

Moving can be tough on everyone in the household, but especially so for pets, who have no way of understanding why everything is suddenly being packed away and removed from the house. As a result, pets can become especially nervous during a move. Pet owners with exotic pets or less common pets (i.e., monkeys or large cats) should consult local law enforcement in the town where they're moving to determine if they need any special permits for their animals. Pet owners who have more traditional pets like house cats and dogs can consider the following tips to make sure their pets handle their relocation as smoothly as possible.

* Get a photograph of your pet before the move and have all documents at the ready. In the days leading up to your move, take a photograph of your pet so you have a recent one on hand should the pet get lost or run away amid the hectic pace of the move. In addition, make sure the pet's ID tag includes your cell phone number and not just your home phone number, which may not still be active once you begin the move.

It's also a good idea to have all of the pet's documents together before making the move. This includes its inoculation records and a recent health certificate if your new city requires it.

* Buy a comfortable carrier. If you don't already have one, buy your pet a comfortable carrier that's big enough for the pet to stand up, shift positions and lie down. Make sure the bottom of the carrier is leak-proof and well ventilated. Make sure its door can be securely shut but don't lock it. Locking it can make it difficult to remove the pet from the carrier in the case of an emergency.

* Research air travel. If traveling by air, start doing your homework as early as possible. When traveling by air, it's best to find a nonstop flight so the pet does not have to endure the process more than once. Nonstop flights are least expensive the earlier you start looking, and the earlier you look the more you can choose an airline that's most amenable to pet travel. Before handing the carrier over to airline personnel, be sure to clearly write the pet's name on the outside of the carrier.

* Discuss traveling with your pet's veterinarian. Some pets benefit from taking a mild sedative before traveling. Such sedatives can help a pet remain calm while in transit and make the move go much more smoothly. Discuss with the veterinarian the pros and cons of giving your pet a sedative. The veterinarian will know the animal well enough to decide if a sedative is necessary and healthy.

* Make pitstops. Many families drive when relocating. In such instances, make pitstops to allow the pet to enjoy some fresh air out of the carrier. This is especially beneficial to larger pets; just make sure the pets are on a leash before letting them out of the vehicle. When making stops, never leave the pet alone in the vehicle, especially on a hot day when pets can easily dehydrate.

* Establish a pet room immediately upon your arrival. Once you've arrived at your new home, establish a room for the pet immediately. Be sure this room is well ventilated, can be closed securely, and has as much of the pet's necessities (i.e., bowl, blanket, bedding, and toys) in the room before you let the pet out of the carrier. This will give the pet an instant sense of familiarity, and the pet won't be bothered while the rest of your possessions are moved into your home.

Moving with a pet is not always easy. But a few simple tips can help make the process go more smoothly for owner and animal alike.