Moving With Your Pet

Moving is a big change for us people, and even bigger one for our pets.  Most animals are naturally territorial and aren’t big fans of change.  We have the opportunity to anticipate an upcoming move and prepare accordingly for it but a move is a sudden and disruptive occurrence in the life of an animal.  It may seem silly but talking to your pet throughout the moving process will aide in their adjustment – animals such as cats and dogs are remarkably intuitive and it is your responsibility as a pet owner to guide your furry friends through this confusing time.  Speaking to your pet in a reassuring tone and maintaining a soothing energy in spite of the chaos of the moving process will reduce anxiety in your pet and help your move go as smoothly as possible.   Here are some tips for accommodating various animals’ creature comforts during a move and for preparing any critter for the long haul to a new home.

Moving with Dogs
A comfortable environment for a dog is one that has familiar scents.  Take along some of your dog’s belongings with them in the car ride to your new home (bed, toys, etc.) and settle them into a room as soon as your arrive so they don’t suffer from a sensory overload with all of the new things to see and smell.

Moving with Cats
Feed your cat a smaller breakfast than usual on moving day to prevent digestive issues and motion sickness in the car.  Transfer your cat carrier into a designated room or area and open it only when necessary (feeding time or litter box breaks).  A scared and disoriented cat will be skittish and may attempt to run off so be sure to secure the premises whenever your cat is allowed to roam free.

Moving with a Fish
As easy as it can be to never move a fish from its tank, most tanks are not built to withstand a move while remaining full.  For your move take as much water from your fish tank as you can and transfer it in into a polythene bag (which can be purchased at most pet care supply stores).  Place your fish into polythene bags, leave an air pocket above the water and seal the bag tightly.  The water that your fish is in should remain room temperature – cool or warm water can directly affect the health of your fish.  If you are traveling long distance you may want to consider buying a batter powered air pump hooked to a smaller, transportable tank to reduce the risk of possibly harming your fish during your move.

Moving with a Bird
Choose a suitable travel carrier for your bird and make it as familiar and comfortable as possible.  Birds are very susceptible to stress and too much at once can even be fatal.  On a long distance car ride cover the car window to keep the carrier from the sun.  Keep feeding times consistent and always be aware of regulating the temperature in the car.

Moving with a Hamster
Use a carrier plastic carrier or makeshift box made of a material that your hamster cannot easily chew through during your move.  Make holes for ventilation in the carrier small enough so that your hamster will not squeeze its way out – you’d be surprised how much a hamster can compress itself and slip through seemingly impossibly small escape holes.

Before Moving With Your Pet

Train Your Pet to Travel
Before your move is the time to make your pets’ carrier a safe spot.  Leave your pets’ carrier in an easily accessible place where they can examine it daily.  Place your pets’ favorite toy, a blanket, anything with a familiar scent, inside of their carrier and it will naturally become a place they gravitate to if they want to hide out on the hectic day of your move.

Transportation
Wherever you will go with your pet, you are going to be asked for papers (and plenty of them) such as: health certification, vaccination verification, pet passport and an international health certification.  If you are planning an international or interstate move, at least a month prior to your move check any rules and regulations regarding pets associated with your new destination.  Filing for any necessary paperwork for your pet could take weeks so it is better to investigate the matter sooner rather than later.  Once you have obtained proper paperwork for your pet be sure to make several copies.   Some countries and airlines will ask for special certifications or requirements to transport your pet or to be permitted to enter at all.  In dealing with an international move with your pet do not rely solely on websites information provided, if you have any questions or concerns contact your airline and official country authorities directly.

Traveling by Car
Adjust your cat or dog to the car experience prior to your move.  Start by taking short trips a few weeks before your move, ideally first to a park in the area and later to go visit the new neighborhood where you will be living (if possible).  Patiently allow your pet to sniff every tree and sidewalk and do fun things with them – play!  These outings will reinforce positive association with car rides for your pet and prepare them for the day of the move.  On the day you are moving with your pet secure their carrier with a seat belt inside your vehicle.  If you have a large dog consider buying a special seat belt adapted for dogs which allows them to sit and look out the window safely.  In the case of a long distance car ride including an overnight stay, be sure to make a reservation at a pet-friendly hotel.

Note: No matter what never transport your pet in the cargo area of a moving truck or leave your pet unattended inside of a sealed car.

Traveling by Air
First find out if your pet is able to fly in the cabin of the aircraft with you.  When it comes to small pets most airlines will permit your pet to fly with you for an additional fee.  Larger pets are typically allowed in the cargo area of the plane only – this can be a terribly stressful even traumatic transportation experience for your pet and should be viewed as a last resort.  If you must transport your pet in cargo choose a suitable carrier for the trip, one that is big enough to enable your pet to easily turn around inside of it.  Make extra time for bathroom breaks before the flight.  It is highly recommended to give your pet a sedative and to make sure you are on the same flight.  Be aware of the unlikely but possible dangers of your pet being lost, injured, or exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures and poor ventilation during their transport in the cargo area of an aircraft.

Visit the Vet
Schedule an appointment for a general check-up prior to moving with your pet.  If any shots are out of date now is the time to get caught up.  Obtain copies of any necessary paperwork such as vaccination records and scripts for any prescription medications your pet may be on a regimen of.  If your move requires you to find a new veterinary clinic, kindly ask your vet for their professional opinion and recommendations on selecting a new provider in your new location.

Grooming
If you have a pet that sheds heavily it is a good idea to get your furry friend groomed a week or so before moving.  Grooming and trimming your pets nails before moving with your pet could be your saving grace in preserving your car seats during a long trip.  Cats tend to shed more when they are nervous so a thorough brushing before your move will not only keep them well-groomed but may also prevent shedding throughout the move by soothing them.

Pack a Separate Bag for Your Pet
Keep towels, toys, treats, familiar objects, fresh water and your pets’ favorite food (it’s best to try and avoid any unwelcome digestive surprises).  Keep documentation and medication in a dry, secure, vacuum sealed plastic bag – you may also want to invest in a pet first aid kit and keep it in their bag as well.

Update Collar and ID Tags
Be sure your pet is wearing an updated collar and ID tag on the day of the move that includes your full name, best phone number to reach you at and updated address.  If your pet has been micro-chipped it is important that the microchip has your up to date contact information including your new address.  You can update your details by contacting the pet microchip registry that your pet is enrolled in through their website or directly by phone. If your pet has not been micro-chipped that is something to seriously consider in terms of their general safety and well-being.

On Moving Day

Create a creature comfort zone that is isolated from the chaos of the move.  Assign one room to remain quiet and comfortable for your pet that is equipped with all of their immediate needs.  Keep this room closed and even put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.  Alert your movers to your pets’ situation – any professional, reputable moving company will be familiar with this scenario and respectfully accommodating of your wishes to reduce the stress of the moving process on your pet.

Scan The Room
Once you have finally arrived at your new home the first thing you should do before allowing your pet to roam free and explore is scan the room to make sure nothing dangerous has been left on the floor such as broken glass, live wires, open cans of paint, mouse traps, etc.

After Your Move

Make an effort to maintain your usual routines with your pet in your new location.  Try to feed and walk your pet at the same time that you normally would at your former house.  Place familiar items such as their bed, toys and food dishes in similar places comparable to their arrangement in your old house.

The adjustment period for settling into a new home can take weeks, even months for people and just as long if not longer for pets so be patient.  Let you behavior guide your pets’ and comfort each other as you turn your new house into a home together.