First and foremost, congratulations on your new home! Whether you are moving across the country or just around the corner in your current town, moving can be a stressful time for all involved – especially pets. Here are some tips for moving with a pet to make the process as safe and comfortable for your dogs, cats and other domestic animals.
Prepping Before the Move
Animals can react differently to a move, and sometimes it can depend on their socialization skills or experiences. Dogs tend to be much more socialized and adapt easier to new surroundings, however, cats have a much more difficult time adjusting and are very dependent on consistency. Here are some items to add to your checklist before moving:
- Introduce a carrier to your pet’s surrounding— This allows them to smell and inspect it, making it more familiar as moving day approaches. You can put in your pet’s favorite bed, blanket or toy and use positive reinforcement when they go inside the carrier. This positive association will help make getting your pet into the carrier and the subsequent drive much less stressful for your canine or feline companion.
- Fit your pet with a collar, ID tag and microchip— In the unfortunate event your pet may run off during a pit stop, or once you get to your new home, it is important for your dog or cat to have identification with your name and phone number to expedite their return.
- Acclimate your pet with short car rides— Taking your pet on a short trip to somewhere they enjoy going, like a dog park or pet-friendly store, will ease the tension and anxiety for the moving day trip. If a pet only associates a car ride with going to the vet or groomer, it could start the day off with high tension and stress.
- Identify pet-friendly hotels and restaurants for stops— For those making long distance trips, it is important to pre-plan overnightstays and rest stops. HotelGuides.com offers a comprehensive list of pet-friendly hotels, searchable by city and state. BringFido also offers a list of pet-friendly hotels, as well as restaurants, parks and beaches for times when you need to stretch your pet’s legs and allow them to let out some pent up energy. Plus, BringFido offers a mobile friendly app to easily lookup stops while on the road.
- Get records and any necessary medications from your veterinarian— You will want to get a copy of your pet’s veterinary records so you can provide them to your new veterinarian. You can also ask your current veterinarian if they have a recommendation for a practicing vet in your new hometown. Veterinarians.com allows you to search for practicing veterinarians and shows a map of all veterinarians in the area to help locating one nearby easy. Also, if your pet is on routine medications, you will want to make sure you have a full supply before you can find a new veterinarian to examine and treat your pet. Some dogs and cats do get car sick, so notify your vet about your upcoming trip and they can prescribe and fill medications to help with nausea.
- Obtain a current health certificate—If you are traveling through states, you will need a current health certificate for your pet and keep it nearby during the trip. Many state require one and you can be asked for proof should you be pulled over, and you can be given a fine for not having one.
- Prepare an overnight pet kit— Keep your health certificate, enough food, litter, extra leash, doggie bags, toys or grooming tools you will need for your excursion, and even for the first few days of unpacking. This will help make overnight stays and pit stops more convenient as well.
On Moving Day
- Ask a family member or neighbor to keep your pet while you load the truck— If that isn’t feasible, confine pets to their carrier in one room, or put them in the fenced-in yard. The hustle and bustle, not to mention the noise, can be frightening to pets. Keeping them in a secluded area will keep stress levels lower and reduce the risk of escaping through an open front door or garage.
- Load your pet last—After everything is out of the house, you can retrieve your pet to put in the vehicle. Be sure pets are in a secure, well-ventilated area. Cats should be kept in carriers, with a light weight blanket or sheet covering the carrier until they get adjusted to the ride. Seeing the outdoors zoom by can cause cats to become frightened, but after a couple of hours, they should be more at ease and the covering can be removed. Dogs should be restrained with a safety harness attached to a seat belt, or safely gated in an area which allows some mobility.
Arriving at Home
- Take your pet out and segregate them to a single room— You will want to inspect the house fully for any dangers or potential hiding spaces, like holes in cabinets, large appliance vacancies, etc. Make sure all windows are closed and there are no chemicals on the floor like rat poison.
- Arrange your space and schedule before letting animals roam— Setting up furniture and familiar objects similarly to your previous home will make the transition easier. Keep potty locations, timing and feeding schedules as consistent as possible. Any changes should be made slowly to keep your pet’s anxiety level low.
- Enjoy your new home— Allow your pet’s to examine their new home safely, and provide lots of cuddles and kisses to make them feel at home too!