Tips for relocating with your pet

Little boy playing with his dog

Relocating can be a stressful time for everyone, including the family pet. With preparation, planning, and affection, you can help your pet through the process and happily adjust to a new home. These tips are primarily for dogs, but many can apply to other domestic pets.

If you have to move quickly— such as for a job relocation—consider the strong possibility that you will have to arrange for your pet’s move to take place after your own. Find a trusted friend or family member who your pet can stay with while you get everything in order, and work with both your current vet in Australia and your soon-to-be new vet to make sure you don’t miss any important steps.

Plan ahead

Moving with pets internationally is not something that can be planned last minute. It can be a lot to take on in addition to all of the other moving-related planning you inevitably have to get done when you’re relocating internationally, but it’s incredibly important that you take all the necessary steps.  
  • Obtaining some documents can take up to six weeks. First, confirm with your international pet transport company what documentation you will need and the specific timing for each item. They can handle all this for you, if you prefer, which can save you countless hours of online research and phone calls and office visits.
  • Just like humans your furry friend is going to need a passport. 
  • To obtain a pet passport, your animal will first need to be micro-chipped and have a rabies vaccination at least 30 days before departure. 
  • Find a veterinarian at your new location.
  • Select a pet transport company that specialises in pet transfers. Crown can provide recommendations.

Preparing your pet

For your pets, relocating can be a stressful period, try to spoil them a little bit the days before the move: let them sleep with you, give them some of their favourite foods. Make them feel you are with them all the time.
  • Maintain a normal routine and stay on the same feeding and walking schedule before and after the move.
  • Help nervous pets become more at ease. Prior to the move, put moving boxes inside in plain sight; move them around so the sound becomes familiar.
  • A few weeks before the move, gradually re-familiarise them to their carrier/crate by putting it in the open with a couple of their toys inside, then put in a treat a day or so later and eventually place their meals inside the open carrier. Soon they’ll eat their meals in the carrier with the door shut. Small pets can be carried around in the carrier or taken for a short drive. Reward your pet with treats and playtime afterward.

Importing pets

Closely research the pet import laws in the place that you’re moving. Some countries have stricter pet import rules than others. Regardless of where you’re moving to, it’s crucial that you learn all you can about what your new home country requires in terms of bringing in pets—especially since some countries don’t allow in certain types of animals, or only allow in specific breeds.  
  • You will need to ask your vet for a Fit-To-Fly certificate as close as possible to your departure date. Dogs will also need a tapeworm treatment. Your vet will then issue your pet with its very own passport.
  • Rabies vaccination and certificate: For most foreign countries, your pet’s rabies vaccination must be at least 30 days old but less than one year old. That means if your dog or cat received a 3-year vaccination more than a year ago they will need a booster to meet the timing requirement. You’ll have to provide a signed rabies certificate.
  • It is suggested that dogs have been vaccinated for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, and Parvovirus. Cats are suggested to have the following vaccinations: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP).
Moving with dogs

On moving day

Moving day is critical. Most likely your pet will know that something is up. Try to keep the day light and give your pet lots of attention. 
  • Either leave your pet with a friend, sitter or boarding facility or keep them in a quiet room with soft music playing and the door shut. 
  • Bring in their favourite blanket and toys and fresh water and put a sign on the door so your pet isn’t accidentally let out.
  • Some movers prefer to not have pets around during packing due to liability reasons, so check with them beforehand.

Settling in your new place

Now that you are in your new location, you might find it a little hard to juggle unpacking and settling in yourself. Pets are a great way to get to know your surroundings and start to feel like you’re home. 
  • Let your pet explore their new surroundings. Initially, your pet may want to stay close to the family. Don’t isolate your pet in a room by themselves; this can cause them to develop anxiety and discomfort.
  • Place bedding, toys, food, and water in similar spots in your new home as they were in your previous location. If the food bowls were by the kitchen door in your old place, keep them by the kitchen door in your new home.
  • If the new location has steps, but your previous one did not help your pet by gently guiding them up and down the staircase one step at a time using a leash if necessary. Reward your pet with plenty of praise and encouragement until it becomes second nature.

Moving with pets internationally is a long, often stressful process, but having your best friend with you in your new home is worth it. Happy tails and happy travels! 

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