Relocating far distances with a pet?

Jul 24, 2007
A really great opportunity has come up for me to work onsite at a client for 6 months. However, we currently live in Chicago with a 55 lb dog. I really want to take him with us, but I'm terrified of putting him on a flight. The temporary assignment is in Seattle. It looks like the drive would take 3-4 days, and given that the assignment would start in the winter, this is not a very safe drive! Has anyone successfully moved with their pet a far distance w/o driving yourself? I would love to hear about your experiences. Thanks!
Sep 14, 2007
I am sure your dog will love Seattle! Beautiful place. It is so hard to find pets a home right now. I had friends who lived in St. Louis and drove back to NY for various reasons with their dog and it was fine. I also had friends who moved from Eastern Montana to Seattle which was a long drive and they did okay as well.
Just take it bit by bit and take the long way if you have to. It might be well worth taking a detour if you can avoid the snowy rocky's and some of those mountain passes.
I wouldn't put my dog in freight on a flight either. I've just heard of too many scary things happening and I know my dog would never make it (he is a nervous nelly). It would be one thing if I could be with him but separated AND flying his first time could be a disaster. For 6 months, I would say a 3 or 4 day drive would be well worth it to keep my doggie with me. Good luck!


Dog Chauffeur
Jun 7, 2008
6600 Feet Above Sea Level
I moved in February from California to Wyoming (over the Sierra Nevadas) with my cat and we did just fine. If you do drive, just take your time. Keep in mind most Interstates will be kept well plowed unless you are in the middle of a storm.

My Aunt and Uncle moved from California to Maryland with two dogs and one or two cats and they put them all on the plane with them. My Aunt was able to go down at some point and check on the dogs (golden retrievers so clearly to big to be carry ons) and everything was just fine.


Sep 27, 2008
san diego
I worry too much to put a dog in freight, personally, although I know it works fine for plenty of people. I flew from MA to CA with two little dogs but they were small enough to have as carry-ons.

If you don't feel safe driving - and I don't blame you given the time of year - have you looked into trains? There are also pet transportation services, if that's an option.


Feb 15, 2011
Massachusetts USA
I took my cat with me from Boston to California when I was there on a one-year work assignment. He flew on the plane (not in the cabin me with) and was stressed but was ultimately fine. The way out there I gave him some kitty tranquilizer the vet prescribed but I skipped it on the way back and I think he adjusted better without the meds.

If you're opposed to the flight then a 3-4 day drive sounds like a good alternative. If you're worried out weather maybe consider renting a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If the flight's not direct they may not allow your dog anyway during the winter.

There's also an airline dedicated just for pets :smile:


May 29, 2006
I flew my 2 cats from Shanghai to Detroit, connecting via Chicago. It's a 16 hour trip and they made it fine. Your dog will be fine in 4 hr plane ride, just make sure to secure his crate/kennel door with a couple of those plastic zip ties / pull thingy and also make sure to have him microchipped and have his crate labeled securely with all your contact and vet info.
Sep 25, 2008
I've driven x-country (Vancouver to Montreal and vice versa) twice with my dogs solely to avoid putting them on a plane. I don't agree that all pets do well on a plane - one of my dogs would probably be fine, but the other one, who has a nervous breakdown during storms etc., I don't think she would make it. Someone mentioned the pets-only airline and I would cinsider that - they fly in the cabin, not the cargo hold, and are accompanied by people the whole time. Check that out, maybe?


I Bleed Orange
Feb 1, 2010
I've moved twice in the past 3 years with my two big dogs- once from Tennessee to Nevada, then Nevada to Washington (both times in my Mercury Cougar... it was a tight fit).

They're good dogs and ride well in the car, so it was no where near as bad as I thought it'd be. When I moved to Nevada, it was December and we hit snow in a few places; we just kept driving until we hit a dry spot to stop for the night. I had to drive because one of my boys has pretty severe separation anxiety when separated from the other dog and no airline would let them share a crate.

Does your dog have a lot of fur? I've heard it gets pretty cold in the cargo holds, especially in the winter.
Jul 24, 2007
Thanks for all the replies and reassurance. I have looked into Pet Airways, but they don't fly to the Pacific NW. I think we're leaning toward driving him out in mid-late March in hopes that there will be less snow. We suspect he is a border collie-black lab mix.


Dec 13, 2010
Animals do much better in private cars than public transport.
I would not consider taking my dog or cat on a plane.

Once my dad drove something like 5 hours with a cat and he sat on the front dashboard. I think the cat really enjoyed himself... maybe your dog would be like that?
Sep 25, 2008
OP - I actually checked out that pet airline awhile ago to see where they flew and it was, at the time, very limited (and all within the US) - sounds like it still is. Would you consider flying him to LA or SF and then driving north? That would shorten the drive and also make it a lot less likely you would hit ugly weather. I'm in Canada so winter lasts longer here but I hit awful snow/whiteout conditions in May in the Rockies. If you can, avoid the mountains.
Sep 7, 2008
brwneyedgrl, if you have grave concerns about your dog flying, why not get private pet transport? We did that recently for our 5 cats and dog when we moved. Although the move was only a few hours by road, they picked them up and delivered them without any problems and the critters didn't seem too stressed out when they got here.