Moving pets overseas
Guidance and tips
We have prepared some general tips and guidance for keeping your pet comfortable, safe and happy at all stages of the move.
Before the move
- In the run-up to the move, try to stick to your daily routine as much as possible. This will give your pet an increased sense of stability. When you arrive at your new home, implement the same daily routines, or a variation of these routines, right away.
- If your pet will be travelling in a pet carrier, consider introducing one a few weeks before the move. Put some of your pet’s toys and bedding in the carrier, and open the door to encourage your pet to go inside. Getting used to sleeping in the carrier is likely to reduce your pet’s anxiety during travel.
- Keep your pet confined to one room while you’re packing. This may help reduce any confusion and trauma your pet will experience as you pack away all the familiar objects in the house.
- If you are travelling by car and your pet is known to become anxious during travel, consult your veterinarian to see whether it is advisable to give your pet a mild sedative.
- If you are travelling by air, you should NOT plan to sedate your pet, because altitude can affect medications and cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
- Clip your pet’s nails and brush out her fur before travelling. In addition to making your pet look healthy for the inspection, grooming her reduces the risk that she will injure herself or damage anything at your new home or the quarantine station.
- There is some debate about how much it is safe to feed your pet before travel. Some vets recommend not feeding pets for 12 hours before travelling to avoid making them sick. Others say you should give your pet a light meal four hours before flying, and offer her water two hours before flying. Use your own discretion.
- On moving day, keep your pet in a safe, quiet room with a sign on the door that says, “DO NOT ENTER.” In addition to keeping your pet calm and safe, limiting her to one room will prevent the chance that she will get out of the house and escape.
- Travelling by car?
- First and foremost, safely and securely restrain your pet. Use a harness to restrain your dog, even if she enjoys car travel. Cats are best restrained in well-ventilated pet carriers.
- Never put your pet in the boot of a car, the bed of a truck, or in the storage area of a moving van.
- Do not leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle during warm weather.
- Keep a photo of your pet with you in the highly unlikely event that she gets lost during transit.
After the move
- Don’t wash your pet’s bedding for a while after you have moved. The old smells will be comforting, and as they blend with the smells of your new home, they will help your pet adjust.
- Cats and dogs may try to return to their original home after you have moved. Update their identity tags and consider keeping them inside for the first several weeks. At the very least, you should keep your pets under close supervision until they have got used to their surroundings.
- Change the details on your pet’s identity tags – but don’t put your pet’s name on the tag. If a potential thief found your pet on the road, knowing the pet’s name would help her bond with your pet.
- If your pet is implanted with a microchip and you have moved within the UK, phone Petlog on 0870 6066751 to get her records changed to your new address.
- Be patient with your pet, and make allowances for any ”accidents” on the carpet. Punishing your pet may actually make the problem worse. Instead, always praise your pet when she goes to toilet in the correct place. The accidents should stop once your pet has settled in.
- If you have a dog, take it for lots of walks. The two of you will have fun exploring the neighbourhood together.
- If you have a cat, carefully stage its explorations of your new home. At first, confine her to just a few rooms to prevent her from getting completely overwhelmed.
- Cats feel secure when they have rubbed their own scent on their surroundings. Help your cat by gently rubbing a soft cloth around her face and then dabbing the cloth at cat’s eye-level around the rooms where she will be exploring. Repeat this routine daily to make your cat feel more confident as she adjusts to her new home.
- Use care when you first let your cat start exploring outdoors. Before you let your cat outside for the first time, withhold food for about 12 hours so that she will have a reason to return home. Choose a quiet time, possibly early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and ensure there are no other cats about. Don’t let your cat go out by herself – supervise her explorations, and after about 15 minutes, call her in for food. She will be hungry, and therefore more willing to return home. The next time you try this exercise, let her go a little further and explore for a little longer. If your cat is used to being outdoors, she will probably adapt well to the new territory. If your cat is timid, you will need to repeat this exercise more often as her confidence builds.