Military Pets: Traveling and Moving With Your Furry Friend

Pets in the military life are wonderful companions because they offer friendship, loyalty, and protection.  They are always eager for your arrival and are a sure way to enhance the mood of children and adults alike. In fact, pets are especially wonderful for military children and families because they offer stability and love in an ever-changing environment.

Unfortunately, there are times when caring for your pet can be quite challenging when it comes to the military lifestyle, so it’s important to plan accordingly and be prepared for the many stressful situations that may arise concerning your beloved military pet from traveling with military pets, to a pcs with pets, or even events where you may have to foster military pets. The information below will help you care for your military pets as best as possible.

#1 Pets Traveling by Land and Air

Regardless of your means of travel, it’s important to keep your pet safe and as comfortable as possible.

Driving: Be sure you know how your pet reacts to traveling by car. If your pet is not used to traveling, you can take them on a “test drive” to see if they have travel anxiety or worse, if they’re easily carsick.

For military pets who are prone to carsickness, travel with them on an empty stomach. Otherwise for carsickness or animals with anxiety, your veterinarian may be able to offer medication or other alternative methods to reduce your pet’s discomfort during their travel. This may be useful for both flying and driving.

Travel well this holiday season! Military Pets: Traveling and Moving With Your Furry Friend.
Technical Sgt. Mike Orr and his dog – Photo by Ken Wright

Be sure to have your pet’s carrier, leash, other accommodations, and water readily available for your day of traveling! 

Tentative Pet Packing List:

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Leash/Collar/Harness
  4. Carrier/Traveling Cage/Kennel
  5. Bags for Waste
  6. Blankets to cover your seats from pet hair, or for them to cuddle up with for their long ride
  7. Treats to keep them occupied ex: dog bone
  8. Treats for rewarding your pets at the new destination

Keep in mind that pets such as dogs or cats may act differently in their new environment, or at a relative’s house (especially around other animals) so be prepared for unusual behaviors or messes.

Traveling by Plane: If you plan to use an airline for your pet, research is critical.

You will need to check with both the U.S. Department of Transportation and your airline to find out all policies and regulations well in advance of traveling. This will help you answer vital questions, including where your pet will be located during travel (the cabin vs. the belly of the plane) and which type of carrier or crate you will need. Some require AKC approved crates, so be sure to research early.

It’s also important to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s safety during the flight. They will be able to address safety risks and precautions based on the breed, age, and type of pet that you have. For example, it may be dangerous for certain types of pets to fly or for your pet to fly during particular seasons. Make sure you are well informed of these risks so that you may make the best decision regarding their travel. You may also be able to find this information on the airline’s website or by calling; AKC offers a list of helpful airline based information as well.

In addition, the veterinarian may be able to offer medication or alternative methods to reduce your pet’s anxiety during their travel.

#2 Learn the Local Laws

PCS moves and transitioning out of the military moves are stressful regardless of whether you have a pet or not. However, having a pet certainly requires extra strategic planning.

Depending on the location of your move, laws may vary concerning your pet’s breed (or species for birds and reptilian friends), specific vaccinations and/or the need for quarantine.

A good start would be to research the area you are moving to in order to find out what restrictions or laws they have concerning your pet. There are many websites such as www.pettravel.com that offers information on animal regulations for over 240 countries.

Another vital task would be to create a collection of important documents that your pet will need when traveling to a new place or country.  Pettravel.com suggests that all pet owners create a pet passport for their pet, which is a collection of all identifying and required documents needed to enter a specific country. These documents are vital because Customs officials will need to view them in order to declare pets clear for travel.

If you need help locating or assembling the documents, your Veterinarian will be able to help you create a pet passport for the specific country you plan to enter. This usually includes forms completed by your vet and endorsed by the State USDA veterinarian along with your pet’s inoculation record.

#3 Research Your New Home

You’ll need to research your new home and find out if it is compatible for not only you and the family, but for your beloved pet as well. For example, if you’re renting, make sure the landlord or housing company allows pets. If they do, how many do they allow? Do they allow your particular species or breed of animal?

Or, does the home have a fence or dog park? Are you able to install one if it’s a necessity for your pet?

These are all questions that you will want to ask to ensure that your pet is not only allowed at your new home, but finds comfort and safety as well.

#4 In Case Your Pet Can’t Travel

Unfortunately, there will be times when your new home or your means of travel will be considered unsafe or impossible for pets. In this case, you may want to consider fostering military pets with relatives or friends until your return. If these options are not available to you, consider using a foster care agency for your military pets until you can be reunited.

Luckily, organizations such as Operation Noble Foster, Dogs On Deployment, and Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet have been created to help in these very situations. Do your research as soon as possible to figure out the best options for your beloved military animals.

#5 Final Note

  1. Be conscious of the weather conditions and how it may affect your animals during and after their trip
  2. Know where Veterinarian clinics are in case of emergencies
  3. Remember to update Microchips and ID Tags when moving!

Hopefully with careful planning and research your pet will be able to continue on your military journey with you.  What a comfort it is to have your furry companion with you every step of the way!

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