Pet Moving Tips

Here are some tips for making your pet's move comfortable

  • Get a vet checkup before traveling and have the vet provide you with a dated health certificate

  • Be sure your pet's collar is comfortable and secure and is tagged with your name, address and telephone

  • Keep your pet on his normal feeding, exercising and elimination schedule

Travel by Car

  • Keep food, water and a leash available

  • Have newspaper and paper towels handy

  • Bring a litter and litter pan for cats

Travel by Air or Rail

  • Recent health certificate is required
  • Book a direct flight to reduce transfers and time your pet may be sitting outside

  • Check with your airline for rules and tips

  • Put something with your scent in the pet carrier to reassure your pet

  • Talk to your vet about tranquilizers

Once in Arizona

  • Let your pet adjust to climate

  • Provide continuous supply of water

  • Make sure shade is available

  • It is illegal to stake out a dog in AZ
  • Never leave your pet in a parked car

License Requirements

Dog licenses are required annually and can be obtained at the Pima Animal Care Center. Rabies vaccinations are required for dogs before licensing.


The Humane Society of Southern Arizona

Friends of Animals

Pima Animal Care Center

Friends of Alley Cats of Tucson

Relocating Your Dogs and Cats

When buying a new home, always let your Realtor® know about your pets. Margo can help you find a home that is suitable.

One of the best things any pet owner can do to facilitate their pet riding in a car or going on a long trip is to keep their travel crate open and available for their use as a comfy bed at all times. Keep a blanket or towel in it. Let them have the option to snuggle there when they want to. I “do” cat and kitten rescue in Tucson and I probably have a dozen crates open and available around the house. When you do this, the crate becomes thought of as “my bed” and not “the bad box that I only get into when I have to go somewhere I’d prefer not to.”

Any pet can become separated from its owner (or the airline personnel, etc.) at any time. Having a collar and tag on the outside of your pet plus a microchip implanted under the skin are certain ways to have your pet returned to you should you become separated. The first thing any shelter or veterinarian does when presented with a “lost” pet is scan it for microchip and look for a tag. If you adopted your pet from a shelter or rescue with a microchip already in place, please make sure that you change the ownership name with the company that produced the chip. You should have received this paperwork as part of your adoption package.

For interstate trips by commercial carrier, you will have to produce a recent health certificate from your veterinarian stating that your pet is healthy and is up to date on his rabies vaccination. This is not so if you are transporting your pet yourself by car, but it is a good idea to have your pet checked by your vet before you go and get the certificate anyway.

On a long trip by car, you should stop from time to time to walk your dog. A good rule of thumb is that when you stop for a potty break, potty your dog, too. Offer water at the same time.

I recommend that you transport your cat in a hard plastic crate big enough for a medium sized dog. That way you can have a litter box in the crate. Here’s what I do: There are some nice clear plastic shoe boxes available at drug and department stores. These make dandy “crate litter boxes” for cats. Put the shoe box against the back wall of the crate and wedge in with a rolled up face towel. Then put the towel or blanket that kitty is going to lie on in front of that. This will stabilize the litter box so it doesn’t tip over.

Take several white trash bags with you and extra litter box filler. Most cats will not use the litter box on a trip unless they absolutely have to. In the event that they do and you need to change it while on the road, please make sure that you do this with your vehicle doors closed. Many cats are freaked by car trips and many may try to flee when you open the crate door. When you open the crate door, I recommend that you hold kitty down gently at the scruff, take the litter box out with the other hand and re-close the door while you clean the box. Then repeat a similar procedure for putting the box back into the crate.

Unless your cat is accustomed to traveling, I recommend covering the crate with a large towel or a sheet. Remember this rule of thumb for cats: If a cat can’t see it, it isn’t there. They are usually very calm in a covered crate when they cannot see out.

Most cats will not eat in a moving vehicle, although some will. I would keep a small dish of dry cat food available, that way you don’t have to smell canned cat food for the whole trip. If your cat only eats canned cat food (Shame on you, it’s bad for their teeth to do that.), you can soak some dry to make it mushy and it doesn’t smell. Dogs should keep their regular feeding schedule.

Traveling with your cat.

When you arrive

When your pet arrives at the new home in Tucson or an intermediate stop, I wouldn’t give them the run of the whole place at first. Especially with cats, let them “locate” to one room that is quiet and closed and where you intend to keep (one of) the litter boxes. Cats are cautious by nature, any new place looks huge and strange and forbidding.

With either dogs or cats, please make sure that you control the doors while you are moving items in and out so that your pet doesn’t go outside, become disoriented and get lost.

Please do not be surprised or overly punitive if your dog or cat urinates inappropriately in the new house. This may happen, especially if there were dogs or cats living there previously. They want to mark the new house as their territory and they want it to smell like them. Remember this: If I came into your house and urinated on your stuff it would be one of the most insulting things I could possibly do. Your cat or dog, by doing the same thing, is saying “This is mine. I love it.”

Establish with a veterinarian in the new location as soon as your move is complete.

DISCLAIMER: Margo Elson is not a veterinarian. The suggestions made herein are those of a prudent pet owner. For specific medical issues please consult your veterinarian. Furthermore, since most house pets are dogs or cats, the information here specifically regards them. For information on fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, exotics and so forth, please consult experts on these pets.

Let me know your moving questions




Margo Elson, Senior Broker Associate
Bancroft & Associates Realty
4884 E. Broadway
Tucson, AZ 85711
Call direct 520-850-0001
Tuscon Arizona Real Estate Company complies with all Fair Housing regulations
Complies with all Fair Housing regulations.