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How to Move Long Distance with Pets

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Moving long distance is never easy--especially when you have a furry friend in tow! The unfamiliar can be very disconcerting for pets, and a cross-country trek is no exception.

Read on for helpful tips for a successful long-distance move with your pet.

Have your pet micro-chipped

In the unfortunate event your pet escapes during your trip, a microchip will greatly increase the chances he is identified and returned to you. The chip, no larger than a grain of rice, is implanted into the flesh between your pet's shoulder blades with a quick, nearly painless procedure using a hypodermic needle. Only a licensed veterinarian should perform the procedure, which can cost between $25 and $65.

If your pet becomes lost and brought to a shelter, they will be scanned to determine if they are micro-chipped. If so, a tracking number will lead to your contact information so you can retrieve your furry friend safely.

Get necessary health documents together

Before heading on a long-distance trek with your pet, it is vital to have her examined by your veterinarian to ensure she is in good health. You may also need to fill prescriptions if she is on any medications, or obtain vaccination records to supply to her new veterinarian. Make sure she is up to date on all inoculations--especially rabies. Check the laws in your new state to be sure what the legal requirements are for your pet.

Practice car travel

While dogs typically enjoy car rides, your cat may be less than thrilled to travel. Many cats associate being in the car with going to the vet, which results in a stressful experience. You should allow your cat to get comfortable with your car before embarking on the move. First, bring him into the vehicle while it is stationary so he can get used to the environment and leave his scent behind. Cats "mark" their territory by rubbing the scent glands located on their faces on various surfaces. This will make your car a less scary place for your kitty when it's finally time to take the trip.

Once your cat has spent some time in the non-moving vehicle, you can take a few test drives to help him become accustomed to the movement. Make sure he is in secure carrier any time the car is in motion, and keep the trips brief to prevent him from becoming too upset. You don't want the experience of riding in the car to create an even more negative association than before.

Get a good carrier

Whether you have a cat, small dog, bird, or other small animal, be sure the cage or traveling carrier is sufficient for long-distance travel. Your pet should have ample room to move around, sleep and eat. It is also imperative the carrier have a secure lock to keep your pet from escaping and becoming loose in the car.

It is not recommended to let your pet roam free in the vehicle (except in the case of a large, well-trained dog). Small pets--especially those not accustomed to car travel--can be a dangerous distraction in a vehicle and can easily become injured if they are not safely enclosed. You should also ensure the carrier is positioned properly so that it will not move or slide during transit.

Take frequent breaks

Make sure you take breaks often to let your pet out of the carrier, show affection, and have potty breaks. You may want to use a harness and leash on your cat to allow him to stretch his legs outside and relieve himself. If your cat will not eliminate outside, invest in small travel litter box you can use during your trip. It's important to give your pet some cuddle time during breaks to ease his stress and provide comfort.

Research pet-friendly hotels

If you will be making stops along the way to rest, be sure to research the locations of pet-friendly accommodations in advance. Not all hotels allow animals, and it is not advised to attempt to sneak one in without permission. The last thing you will feel like doing after a day of driving is aimlessly stopping at hotels in search of one that will permit your pet. Use websites like to find lodgings along your route that allow pets, as well as the associated rules and fees that may come with the service.

Have plenty of food and water available

Make sure you pack plentiful pet food and fresh water for your pet to last the duration of the trip. Keep these items in an easily-accessible bag, along with your pet's dish. You may also want to keep some of her favorite treats and toys on hand to improve her spirits.

The most important thing to remember when traveling with your pet--keep it familiar. Changing your pet's food, bedding, and other amenities will only further alienate and upset your pet. Make sure to surround her with items that carry her scent to make her feel safe and secure. Avoiding a switch in food will also help prevent an upset tummy from carsickness or nervousness.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on January 31, 2014

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