Let’s face it. Moving cross country is hard on the whole family. When planning cross country moves, don’t forget about the comfort and safety of your pet on the road. Use this checklist to make sure your pet arrives at your new home safely and as stress-free as possible along with the rest of the family.

Visit Your Vet

Before your scheduled move, make your vet’s office your first stop. You don’t want to be on a long road trip with a sick pet. The vet can assess your pet’s health and make sure it’s well enough to travel. The vet will also check to see if your pet is up to date on vaccinations.

Pick up a copy of your pet’s records for the new vet and stock up on medications such as heartworm prevention to hold you over until you get established in a new town.

Drive Don’t Fly

Transporting a pet by air is especially stressful for both of you. Tranquilizers can cause heart and respiratory problems for cats and dogs while flying, and you will worry.

Driving out in a more controlled environment, especially the family car will be more familiar and comforting to him. If you absolutely must fly your pet out, keep in mind most states require a signed health certificate and proof of updated rabies vaccinations.

Have an ID Tag

Confused pets may get anxious and bolt so make sure your pet has a secure ID tag with your name, address, and phone number. Check with your new location to see if they require a separate rabies tag worn on a pet’s collar. If your pet has a microchip, now is the time to update it with your new location’s information.

Pack a “To Go” Bag

Pack your pet a bag of essentials similar to one for yourself for a road trip. Include food, fresh water, bowls, treats, a litter box and scooper for cats, “poop” bags for dogs, a leash, blanket, and toys. Put the bag where it can be easily accessed.

Get a Sitter on Moving Day

Doors are almost constantly open when the movers are moving you out of your old home and into your new one. The risk of a bolting pet is high during all this stress and unusual activity. Arrange for a friend or family member to pet sit or take your pet to a local pet daycare center.

Consider Car Restraining Options

Some states have laws that require pet restraints while a car is in motion. Besides the law, it’s a good idea to retrain pets for safety reasons. Drivers will be less distracted and pets will be secure in emergency stops. Options include crates or carriers and dog and cat seat belts.

Keep Your Pet Comfortable on the Road

July and August are peak moving months and also the hottest. Make sure your pet stays cool and hydrated. Use a non-spill water bowl on the road. You can also purchase cooling mats for pets. Above all, never leave them in a hot car for any amount of time.