Moving with Pets: Must do’s before you PCS

pcs-with-dogFun fact about my dog, Macy: she’s four years old and has lived in three different states. She grew up on an Oklahoma farm with a mini horse, and the night before Thanksgiving this year, she ate 24 dinner rolls when no one was home. Pretty special, no?

Moving her to three different states has been interesting, as you can imagine. The lesson learned is that PCS moves don’t just affect school-aged kids and military spouse careers, they can be just as tough for our furry friends. Not to mention how time consuming it can be to get our pets ready for an OCONUS move.

In my own move, I made sure that Macy was up-to-date on all vaccines, and got a copy of her record from my veterinarian to keep with us in the car while we drove to our new installation. I packed a bag of things for Macy, like a bucket of food, some bones, a leash, and extra water. Since she loves the car, we didn’t have to worry about how she would do on the drive, but if your furry friend isn’t accustomed to car travel, you may want to use a crate to keep them confined for their own safety.

If you know your move may take a few days, and staying in a hotel is a must, be sure to find pet-friendly hotels along the way. La Quinta Inn is extrememly pet friendly – they don’t even require a pet deposit! Moving can be expensive, and it can be frustrating to have to pay an extra $200 for our pup to stay with us in our hotel room.

It’s not like she eats things she shouldn’t (like Thanksgiving Day dinner rolls).

During our travels from our installation in Northern Virginia to Pensacola, Florida, we made sure to make many stops, even if WE didn’t need to. Depending on the type of pet you have, they may need potty breaks frequently. Because I carried a water bowl in our car, I was able to give Macy a water break when we stopped.


A tip for uneventful travel is to limit feedings prior to getting on the road. It’s recommended to feed your pet a few hours before leaving, and lightly when stopping for the night. Letting your pet chow down in the midst of travel can cause upset stomachs, thirst, and Macy’s personal demon: really bad gas.

Do yourself that favor. Trust me.

Moving overseas with a pet can present its own challenges, too. Make sure your pet is accustomed to being in their crate. This is how your pet will travel on the plane, so helping them feel safe and comfortable in one makes for a stress-free flight for both of you. Check customs requirements and ensure that your pet is allowed in the country you are moving to – some have breed restrictions. Even Hawaii has strict regulations and quarantine requirements. Get all paperwork done sooner, rather than later!

Another important tip: contact the airline company to find out all the important information you need prior to your flight. Here’s a checklist from United Airlines. Will your pet’s crate fit on the plane? Are they small enough to travel in the cabin? Booking weekday flights are best, as some veterinary employees may not be working on the weekends. Ensure that your total travel time does not exceed 12 hours – non-stop flights are ideal because they reduce any confusion of layovers and making sure your pet doesn’t get left behind.

On the day of the flight, verify with the airline that your pet is listed on the flight. Military OneSource suggests mentioning to the pilot or flight attendant that your pet is on the flight. It may not make any difference, but it may ease your mind.

If you need help planning for your PCS with pets, there are programs like Operation Military Pets that can help with relocation costs. The key to any successful move, is to be prepared and start early! Before you know it, your move will be over and your pet will be a seasoned traveler!

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager


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  1. 1
    packers and movers hyderabad

    With this blog you really took attention to the points that we never thought about, you provides good information in your post, let me tell you, very interesting information your are having in your post, this is what I am looking for. Thanks & Regards.

  2. 3
    Kelsy Bell

    What a lovely dog you have there! My golden retriever Sky is also a pro-traveler so when we moved out last year from Minneapolis to Maison City, I had no problem with bringing her along with my family. She did not have problem adjusting at all compared to my kids Phil and Liam who had to sleep beside me and my husband because they find the house not homey enough. 😉

  3. 4
    Walter Jones

    Those are some really important tips and a must-read for people who are traveling with puppies for the first time or fifth time. Like you said, not all hotels allow pets so do your research ahead of time. Moving overseas is even more laborious so you’ll need to check with the country’s authority to see how to proceed.

  4. 6
    Christy Mason

    So helpful article! I am going to move to Australia with my eight-year-old dog and I am so excited! I hope that he will like his new home. Thank you again for the nice tips in this post!

  5. 8
    Lena Renwick

    My boyfriend is going to move to my place with his three-year-old god Willy. I love that dog and I know that he loves me too and I am glad that I will share an apartment with Willy. I am a little concerned about that he could be stressed by the new environment. I will make everything to make him feel comfortable.

  6. 9

    Hahah, your Macy seems so much like my dog I think they might be relatives 😀 Thanks for the tips, I will be moving soon, so I needed an advice on how to proceed, it will be her first move.

  7. 10
    Genna B

    A great list of tips! Thanks for sharing it! I needed exactly that kind of help and now I feel much more confident about our upcoming move. We love our dog and treat him as our 3rd child. Thanks for helping us relieve some of the stress while moving for him. I’m sharing this on fb – you deserve as much credit as you can get!

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