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Moving with Pets


moving with pets
Photo courtesy of Anthony/Flickr

For most people, leaving their pets behind when moving is out of the question. Most families consider their pets as members of the family. Everyone experiences stress when relocating but there are ways to ensure that moving with pets is a smooth transition.


Before the Move

No matter what kind of animal you may have, the key to is plan. They will be scared that they are not going with you and so do not neglect easing them into moving. Be aware of how different they will behave and react to change. Cats are more focused on their surroundings and thrive on consistency. They don’t like disruption to their environment and will show this by fostering stress induced behaviors. Dogs often travel easier but make sure that their car rides are more than just to the vet. Acclimate them to their carriers. If your cat has never been in a carrier, set it out during the day to let him inspect it and get used to it.

Moving other less “huggable” pets requires careful research and special handling. Reptiles require meticulous planning because of their extreme sensitivity to temperature. Fish can be difficult and depending on what kind will depend on how they will be taken to your new home.


Day of the Move

After your small animals have gotten used to their carriers, place them there on the day you are actually packing up and loading. For dogs, place them in one room or the backyard. If they are easily stressed out or very territorial, have someone watch them for the day. Only after you have loaded everything and the house is empty should you retrieve them and put them in the car.

For smaller animals-the carrier should be hard sided and have enough room for ventilation. You want to cover the carrier for the first few hours (or for the whole trip if it is short) so they are not stressed by seeing the world moving out the window. After a while, they should relax and you can remove the covering if you desire.

For dogs-they should be restrained either by a safety harness connected to the seatbelt or by a safety gate in the back to allow movement. A stressed-out dog may compromise your control of the vehicle or take advantage of fleeing at a roadside stop.

Don’t forget a travel bag for your pet. Take some food, a gallon of water, disposable litter box, and some extra puppy pads in case of an accident.


New Home

Once you have arrived at your new home, take your pets out immediately from the car and put them in a single room. Take this opportunity to inspect your house for anything that would harm your pets, i.e. open window, chemicals in toilet water. Only after you have unloaded boxes and furniture should you let the animals out. Allow plenty of time for your animals to adjust. Place familiar items around the same locations and keep routines and schedules.