Guide to Moving With Pets
When a family moves, it can be disruptive for everyone, and that includes the family pet. With the exception of very young children, most of the human members of a household understand the moving process; however, boxing up items, moving furniture, and relocating is something that animals do not understand. Most often, larger animals are affected by moving more than smaller animals such as guinea pigs and hamsters. Cats, dogs, and even birds, for example, may experience stress as the family prepares, moves, and settles into their new home. As a result of these changes to their routine, these types of animals may experience stress and even exhibit behavioral problems such as destroying furniture or becoming overly aggressive. Some animals may react by fleeing either out the door or out of the car or to a hiding spot within the old or new home.
Before the Move
Before moving day arrives, pet owners should properly prepare and ensure that their pets will have everything that they need in their new home. People can start by contacting their pet’s veterinarian to ensure that vaccines are up to date and to obtain medical records. Additionally, if the animal requires medication, arrangements will need to be made for refills until a new vet is found. Because animals may run off during the move, it is also important to have current tags, which will increase a lost animal’s chances of being safely returned to its family. Make certain that tags contain the new address and phone/cell phone number.
When possible, a good way to prepare one’s pet is to take it to the new home prior to moving. This allows them to walk and smell the property so that it will not be an entirely foreign place. Scent is important for pets, particularly dogs and cats. By boxing up items that smell like the older home, people can provide a sense of comfort for their pets. Bedding and toys are ideal for this and should not be washed prior to the move. Place bedding and toys, as well as food, bowls, and other supplies, in a box that is clearly marked for pets. These items should never be difficult to locate during the move.
Before moving, attempt to maintain consistency in the routine of things. Make no drastic changes in food brand or type or brand of cat litter. If a dog is normally walked daily or a cat has a routine playtime, continue as usual. If moving to a new time zone is anticipated, people should try to make the change gradually while preparing to move. This will best help their pet to adjust to their new environment.
The Day of the Move – Moving Out of the Home
Moving day will be a hectic one that is upsetting for most pets. Movers, hauling boxes and furniture from one home to another, and driving either short or long distances are all things that cause pet stress. Reduce stress by creating as calm of an environment as possible. One way to do that is to seclude the animal in a quiet room with the door closed. Crate-trained dogs should be kept in their crates within this “safe” room, as the crate adds an even greater sense of security and eliminates the chances of the animal running out of the room or the home if someone enters. Dogs that are not crate-trained should have their bedding to lay on. Regardless of whether the animal is crate-trained or not, it should have a toy, food, and water available.
Some homeowners may prefer to remove their pets entirely to avoid any mishaps like the animal escaping. One alternative option is to leave the animal with a pet-sitter. Leaving one’s pet at a kennel during the move is another option; however, it may be more stressful. When boarding a pet, the owner should leave it with a blanket or something that smells like home in efforts to help keep it calm.
While in Transit
During a move, how a pet travels depends on several factors, such as distance and the mode of travel. One thing that should never be done, regardless of how short the ride, is to leave the pet in the moving truck or van. Professional movers will not do so, and anyone renting and driving a truck or van should never consider it. This is inhumane and can result in injury or death, as these types of vehicles are not designed for carrying animals. When moving a short distance by car, restrain pets according to size. Big dogs may rest on bedding inside of the car as long as they are properly secured with a doggie seat belt or harness. Smaller dogs and cats should be kept in a crate or carrier that is securely fastened using a seat belt.
When traveling longer distances, pets must also be properly secured. In addition, the driver will want to schedule short breaks to walk the leashed pets. Vehicles should be kept temperature-controlled for comfort, and people should never leave their pets unattended in a vehicle, as temperatures can very quickly reach extremes. For moves that require more than one day of driving, overnight accommodations will be necessary: Before securing a room, pet owners must ensure that it is a pet-friendly establishment.
Air travel with pets varies in cost and requirements depending on the airline. By contacting the airline in advance, pet owners can fulfill all of the necessary requirements, such as getting an appropriate crate or meeting any medical requirements. For some pets, it may even be necessary to seek a vet for help if the animal is one that easily excites or if there is a concern about motion sickness.
Moving into the New Home
Upon arriving at the new home, it is important to ensure that the pet is safe in its new environment. Pet owners can quickly check for anything in the home that can hurt the animal or allow it to escape. This includes open windows or doors, uncovered pools, or unlatched or broken fencing around the home. Any problems should be remedied or blocked off before allowing the animal to roam freely on the property. Keep animals in a quiet and secure part of the house, such as a bathroom, until furniture and boxes have been moved inside the home. Also, prior to giving pets free access to the house, put out familiar items such as bedding, food bowls, litter boxes, and toys.
- Tips for Moving With Pets
- Homeward Bound Moving With Your Pet
- Care Sheet: Moving Your Dog to a New Home (PDF)
- Moving Preparations for Dog Owners (PDF)
Helping Pets Adjust – Eating and Eliminating Problems
Following a move, pets may act out negatively, such as by refusing to eat or by eliminating in places where they should not. Refusing to eat is a problem that is most common with felines and can result in serious and even deadly health problems, like the metabolic condition known as hepatic lipidosis. Pet owners should attempt to entice their pets to eat by providing them with foods that will attract their interest; if this doesn’t work, vet intervention may be required.
No one wants their pet to have an “accident” on the flooring of their new home; however, before one disciplines their pet too harshly, it is important to determine what exactly is causing the problem. For cats, the problem may easily be remedied by simply relocating the litter box. Dogs may eliminate indoors as the result of confusion and unfamiliarity with which door to go to when it needs to go out. Because animals have such a keen sense of smell, they may also urinate or defecate in areas that have been soiled by the pets of previous owners. In these cases, the carpeting may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced entirely.