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    How to Prep Your Pets for a PCS Move

    PCS moves can be a challenge for military families. Whether it’s an exciting transition or not, dislocation affects everyone in the home, including beloved pets. These sweet, furry (or scaly!) family members require careful consideration to ensure a safe journey and a happy arrival at the new duty station.

    To help make that happen, here’s how to prep for an upcoming PCS move with your pet.

    woman with her dog

    Photo from Canva

    1. Research pet regulations at your next duty station.

    When you receive orders, hop online to check for pet quarantine regulations that require additional vaccines or prohibit your pet from traveling at the same time as you. 

    Locations that require pet quarantines include

    • Hawaii 
    • Guam
    • Japan 
    • Europe 

    These locations mandate that dogs and cats traveling must have certain vaccines and undergo quarantine before entry into the country (or state). You can navigate these regulations without separating from your pet, but the process is long and time-consuming. So, the sooner you start the process, the better your chances are.

    Begin with a call to your vet to schedule necessary appointments for routine vaccines, a physical examination, a health certificate, and a microchip.

    2. Find out if there are breed restrictions. 

    If you’ve researched the new area and decided that you want to pursue on-base housing for you and your pup, the next step is to check breed restrictions at the local military housing office. 

    Frequently banned dog breeds include: 

    • American Pit Bull Terrier
    • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
    • Bull Mastiff 
    • Rottweiler
    • Doberman Pinscher
    • Akita
    • Rhodesian Ridge Back 
    • Chow Chow
    • Wolf Breeds
    • Cross of any of the above 

    If your pet is restricted from base housing, it’s time to shift your focus to properties off base. Refine your online housing search by checking the pet policy as you scroll through rental properties in the area. You can always include information about your pet and a list of referrals from previous landlords to speak on their behalf.

    happy dog with head out car window

    Photo from Canva

    3. Plan your pet's travel. 

    How are you getting your pet to your next duty station? 

    Driving with Pets

    If you’re driving, it’s pretty simple—you’ve got a fun companion to ride shotgun with! You can always use a crate to reduce pet dander and provide your pet with space. If your pet isn’t accustomed to car rides, take them on short errands to make them more comfortable in the car before the long haul. 

    Flying with Pets

    Realize that some airlines won’t ship pets during the summer months. Others have climate-controlled cargo areas with limited availability. If your pet will travel via air, begin crate training now to prepare for the trip. Note that your crate must be airline-approved. 

    You may be eligible to fly your pet via military transport. However, flights through the Air Mobility Command (AMC) pet availability fill quickly, so it’s best to communicate with your local transport office. 

    Pet Movers and Charter Flights

    Charters are more expensive but can be a great solution if your pet has high anxiety or if the timing doesn’t align for your pet to accompany you. In many cases, military members aren’t given adequate time to get their pets prepped for an overseas move that requires additional vaccines and quarantine (some mandate 180 days). Using a pet moving company allows your pet to complete the requirements with family and meet you when you’re settled in at your new duty station. 

    Charters, though pricey, are less stressful for pets with anxiety who don’t do well in crates or being separated as you can accompany your pet in the cabin.

    However you choose to travel, be sure to map out pet-friendly hotels along the way. 

    fluffy cat in carrier

    Photo from Canva

    4. Learn about pet entitlements.

    If you're a service member with a pet, then you’ve probably heard of the latest Department of Defense Pet Transport Allowance:

    “A Service member may be authorized allowances associated with the costs of moving with one household pet. For moves within CONUS, the Service member may be reimbursed up to $550 and for OCONUS, up to $2,000.” 

    While the Pet Transport Allowance doesn’t cover all move-related expenses for your pet, especially for those that require extra vet appointments, need to fly, or have multiple pets, it's a significant improvement from previous years when there was no allowance.

    To claim pet expenses, service members must keep related receipts and fill out the DD 1351-2. However, the reimbursement isn’t immediate; you can expect to see it when the travel claim is settled.

    5. Get ready for travel. 

    Think through what you must pack for your pet, including airline-mandated crates, stickers, food, and water dishes, along with your pet’s favorite stuffy and snack. Ensure you have enough food and medication packed to last the duration of the trip, plus a few days to avoid an unexpected run to the store. 

    Talk to your vet about medications for travel if needed. Some pets are happy-go-lucky, with their tails wagging and tongues hanging out of their mouths. Others are little stress balls who pull back their ears and tuck their tails when the suitcase emerges from the closet. If you think your pet would benefit from travel medication, consult your veterinarian and realize it might be best to test it before you buckle up. 

    As you head out with your PCS binder for yet another successful military move, be sure to keep your pet's records and files with you.  

    Following the steps outlined in this quick guide can help ensure your pets are comfortable and safe during your move, ultimately making their transition as stress-free as possible!

    Moving Overseas with Pets

    How to Prep Your Pets for a PCS Move


    Danielle Keech


    Danielle Keech

    Danielle Keech is a writer and content creator for MilitaryByOwner Advertising. She writes on military life topics, highlights clients’ open houses on social media, and manages the Military PCS Facebook group. She especially enjoys covering financial topics and helping military families exercise financial responsibility and plan for the future. Danielle has been a Marine Corps spouse for ten years (and counting!) and is a momma to four littles and one fur baby. She and her pilot spouse have lived in Virginia, Florida, Texas, California, Hawaii, and, most recently, Okinawa, Japan. And yes, you guessed it, Hawaii is her favorite duty station to date! Find MilitaryByOwner's Millitary PCS group here.

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