This is my last bit of advice concerning moving with pets. I’ve done it…I’ve analyzed it, and I’ve beat it to death and will end it here. Be sure to read my other posts on moving and pets. I had a bit of a steep learning curve, as my first big move with pets was by plane and overseas, but I am happy to say we all made it okay and in one piece.
Here are…hopefully…my final thoughts:
- If you are moving overseas and need a valid 10 day pet health certificate, I encourage you to use a military vet. Not only is the check-up and paperwork free, but military vets are more familiar with the procedures. I think ours mentioned something about our paperwork having to go thru the USDA or some other entity, and if we use a civilian vet, we’d have to fax paperwork, and my husband immediately said…those are too many moving parts. A friend of ours was missing one signature on her paperwork and ended up having to leave her dogs at Frankfurt International Airport for EIGHT hours (and having to pay kennel costs), while she tried to figure it all out.
- Use piddle pads inside the bottom of the crate. I know your doggie is a good doggie, so is mine. But you know how Murphy can strike whenever you least expect it. I had one friend whose dog got really sick, and luckily the pad absorbed most of it. Another, the dog got stuck in the crate on the tarmac because of delays and just couldn’t hold it anymore. Newspapers just don’t cut it…do your pet a favor and just put the piddle pad (puppy training pads) underneath your pet’s regular bed or mat.
- If you are flying, pick the shortest flight route. We drove from Florida to Virginia, visited relatives there, dropped of our van to be shipped through Baltimore and flew out of Dulles. This gave us a direct flight to Frankfurt, Germany. You want to avoid any flights where you have to change planes. More chance for things to go wrong, and your pets to be stuck on the hot….or cold…tarmac and potentially left behind or put on the wrong plane. Less moving parts again my husband would say.
- Check airlines pet flying policies and prices. Even though the military arranges your flight, if you are going overseas, check beforehand, which airport is closest to your destination and which airlines are most pet friendly. Consistently, I heard plugs for United and Lufthansa. We flew United in the middle of a hot summer and the pets were fine, because all of United’s planes are temperature controlled. Many of the others are not and have restrictions on when you can fly pets. Also check those prices. A friend was charged what must’ve been the cargo freight fee for her two medium sized dogs…yep, over $2,000. We were only charged $310 for a cat and a large 100 lb dog (with a 50 lb grande size kennel). That broke down into the cat flying for $105 and the dog for $205 one way.
- Visit the airline’s pet travel webpage. Each airline has a page…or group of pages on their requirements for pet air travel. If you can’t find it in writing, then ask about it. For example, I called the airline to make sure this super giant dogcrate would fit on the plane. The reservationist was actually able to look up the airplane type and what size crates would fit. Not all planes fit all size crates, and if you are stuck on a plane that is too small, you risk the chance of having to ship your pet air freight which equals $$$$$$…..or leaving your pet behind.
- Make sure your pet’s travel information is in your PNR. As soon as you get your reservation, call the airline and make sure your pets and what crate models you have, are noted in your record. Planes can only take a certain number of pets per plane, and you don’t want any mistakes on crate sizes vs plane cargo hold space. Most airlines only allow two pets per passenger cabin (more in the cargo hold), so make sure that is noted as well if that’s what you plan to do. I knew someone who showed up at the airport and was denied boarding her pet because two other passengers had their pets noted in their records. Because of some kind of oversight, her kitty was not. This brings me to my next point.
- Have back up arrangements for your pet.Things can go wrong at the airport or with your family or with your schedule. I knew someone who last year had a dog and crate who were five pounds over the limit, and they would not allow the dog to board. She was also traveling with a little dog and four kids! Since she had planned ahead, she was able to give the dog to a friend…who was helping them at the airport at check in…and made arrangements for her to ship the dog at a later date…after he was put on a little diet.
- Put something in the crate that smells like you. In the week before we moved, I put a washcloth for each pet on our pillows. Right before we flew, they each got one. I honestly think this had a calming effect on both of them. When I first saw the cat, he had it burrowed all around him.
- If you have a litter box trained cat, plan for your sponsor or someone on the receiving end to have a litterbox and litter ready for you. My husband didn’t…think he was too embarrassed. We got to Frankfurt airport, and the poor cat refused to go to the bathroom at the airport on a plot of grass or at our first highway rest stop. Of course, the dog had no issues with this. After a three hour drive to our destination, my husband had to run and buy the goods, brought the stuff to the hotel and the cat….it was truly a sight to see…jumped in there and must’ve scratched for a full minute, eyes wide, meowing to no end….before finally going….poor thing. I don’t think he’s ever not gone in a litterbox and probably never will!
- Tape a cheap leash and a photo of your pet to the top of its crate.You never know when there might be delays and a sympathetic airline employee might take out your pet. Also, if your pet somehow escapes, they will at least know what he looks like.
- Tape a ziploc bag of one food portion to the top of the crate. I chose not to feed my pets…so they wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom. They won’t totally starve by missing one meal. But let’s say there are major delays. You don’t want your pets going too long without food.Do you have any tips to share?