Buying a new home and moving can be an exciting time. It certainly can be stressful but we know that it’s going to be great when everything is done. However, there is a member of your family that doesn’t understand what is happening and all they see is upheaval. It’s your pet! There are things you can do, with a little planning ahead, that will ease the stress of moving for your pet and in turn for you, too. Here are a few things to add to your To-Do list.
Before Moving Day
- Advise your veterinarian that you’ll be moving and have your pet chipped or have their chip updated with your new address. Update any tags on collars to your new address as well.
- If you’re moving to a new city, get a copy of your pet’s medical records and ask your vet if he or she can refer you to a vet in your new area. Once you find a new vet, have the medical records sent over.
- Make sure you have enough medication to get you at least one week past moving day since veterinarians will not prescribe meds for new patients without examining your pet first.
- If your pet has trouble with traveling, ask if there is anything you can give your pet to ease their anxiety.
- Plan how you will be transporting your pet. Dogs can be crated or even harnessed into a car but cats and other small animals should be put in hard sided carriers with secure doors.
- Help your pet get used to their crate, carrier or harness by bringing them out well ahead of time. If you plan to harness your dog to a seatbelt in the car, take your dog out for drives using the harness so they understand what it is and get used to it. If you plan on using a crate, put your pet’s favorite blanket inside, a few small toys, and leave the door to the crate open. Allow your pet to come and go freely from the crate, praise them when they are inside and give them a treat when they go in. This will help them to associate the crate as something positive.
- Bring boxes in for packing well ahead of time and allow them to inspect and explore them. Cats especially dislike change so take your time with packing if it’s possible.
On Moving Day
- Ideally, it would be good if you can arrange to have your pet boarded on moving day. You know they will be away from the chaos in a safe space and you won’t have to worry about any Houdini escapes.
- If you can’t board, make sure your pet is confined to an area that is secure such as a bathroom and place a sign on the door with big letters that says, “Do not disturb! Pets inside”. Make sure they have food, water, toys and a blanket to lay on. This will not only make your pet feel safer but you’ll be able to load the truck or vehicles without having to worry about where your pet is or possibly escaping. Even the most well behaved animals can suddenly bolt if they are feeling anxious.
- After the house is completely empty, crate or harness your pet and take them out to the transportation. Never, never, never put your pet in the back of the moving truck, the open bed of a truck, on the roof of a car, or pack things around your pet’s crate. None of these conditions are safe for your pet. They must have proper ventilation and things packed around your pet can suddenly shift, falling onto the crate. Being in the back of a truck or on the roof of a vehicle may sound like proper ventilation but moving at high speeds is actually terrifying to an animal and can cause serious physical and mental distress.
- Have food, water and snacks easily accessible for your pet. Also, make sure you have a first aid kit on hand and the phone numbers for both your old and new vet in case of any accident.
- If you are moving a long distance and will be staying in hotels overnight, be sure to call the hotel directly to inquire about their pet policy and don’t just take the chain’s word for it. Many hotels are franchised and may have different policies regarding pets. Your pet will need a break from being confined so be sure to find them an appropriate space. Always inspect hotel rooms prior to letting your pet out of a carrier. Look for any holes in the walls, open windows, and mouse or insect traps under beds or in bathrooms. Cats will have a tendency to try and hide when released into an unknown environment or even run if the room door is opened so it’s best to be vigilant.
- Once you arrive at your new home, unload the truck and vehicles to put everything in place as much as possible before you pick your pet up from boarding. If you didn’t board, immediately do the same thing you did at the old house by finding a secure area for your pet to stay and provide them with food, water, toys, a blanket and a litter box if needed.
- Once everything is unloaded and the mood is relaxed, allow your pet to leave the secured area. Be aware that a new environment can be shocking to some animals. Some may want to explore and play but many, especially cats, will be wary and extremely cautious. Don’t just pick up your pet and set them in the middle of the new house. Allow them to come out at their own pace. Cats may not leave a room for several days or only venture out at night when they feel more secure to explore. Give them the space and time they need to adjust while making their environment as comfortable as possible.
- Not every pet is a dog or cat. There are also snakes, lizards, fish, birds, and more. Always consult an expert on the best way to transport your exotic animal. Remember that reptiles are cold-blooded and are susceptible to climate changes so they wouldn’t do well in a Winter move without special arrangements. Fish stores can supply you with large plastic bags infused with concentrated oxygen which are generally good for about 24 hours. They can also advise you on the best way to transport tanks. Bird cages should be locked with an actual lock and not just latched to prevent any accidental door openings. Birds such as parrots may require a little extra care in transportation so consult a bird expert about how to best prepare your bird for travel.
Moving with your pets can be a good experience for both you and your pet with a little planning and understanding. Know that if your pet misbehaves that it isn’t intentional and that it is most likely stressed and scared. Have patience, be gentle, and be diligent and everything will go more smoothly.