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Planning a long-distance move with a pet

A big dog taking a trip in the back seat of a car looking outside the window

Adventure awaits!

You and your pet are about to embark on a BIG DEAL move — from one province to another or clear across the country. Long-distance moves require a lot of planning, preparation, and coordination.

Especially when you’ve got your fuzzy BFF in tow.

Moving with a dog is one thing, and moving with a cat can be another.

In order to keep enthusiasm high and stress levels low for both you and your pets, we’ve got some tips on how to prepare and pull off a long-distance move with your four-legged bestie.

Prepping for the big adventure

Before any packing for your move begins, make it a priority to ensure that your pet is healthy and ready for travel.

Schedule a visit with your vet to ensure that all shots and vaccinations are up-to-date, that you have enough of any prescribed medications — and even prescription food, if relevant — to get you through the move and beyond (until you can see your new vet), and to address any other health concerns related to the move. Your vet may also have advice on what kinds of preventative medications or treatments could be required in your new city or province.

Knowing the local bylaws and pet-related regulations in your new home — especially if you are crossing a border — is also essential before a move.

Your new location will also likely include some changes that affect your pet directly. Will it be hotter? Colder? Wetter? Differences in climate can be planned for so that you’re not caught without the weather-related essentials your pet needs to enjoy your new home.

For instance, cat or dog coats and booties are cold-weather musts, while cooling mats and sun protection gear will help them acclimate to higher temperatures.

Before travel day arrives, here is how to get your pets and your car (if you’re driving) ready for the big trip.

Get pets used to using pet seat belts and harnesses, or riding in secured carriers with short training drives and outings. Equip their space inside the car with familiar blankets and favourite toys to keep them comfortable on the journey.

Remember to organize pet travel kits with essential items like food, water, medications, poop bags, and treats. Pack an extra leash (because something always gets lost during a move) and consider taking along a small first aid kit too.

On the road (or in the air)

Pet parents who are flying with their animals should call their airline to determine which documents are required to fly, the seating arrangements available for their pet, pet washroom facilities, and the requirements for inflight pet carriers.

If you’re travelling by car, things are a bit simpler. Plan for plenty of bathroom time, exercise and meal stops. Stick to your pet’s normal feeding schedule but try to avoid feeding them too closely to your departure time so that their stomach can settle.

Spill-proof water dishes are a great item to keep pets hydrated if they’re travelling in their crates.

And for when nature calls, make sure cats have access to a travel litter box, and pack plenty of poop bags for dogs. If you’re taking a break for yourself, it’s best not to leave your pet unattended in your car. And of course, never leave a pet in a hot car.

Some long-distance moves will be made easier by breaking up the journey over the course of a few days. When booking a hotel, confirm that they allow pets and also ask if they provide bowls, beds, or other animal amenities.

Above all, pay attention to how your pet is coping with the trip. Have calming supplements on hand and offer them some extra love and attention so that they understand the move is a positive experience for everyone.

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