Anyone who has been through a big move will attest: moving is stressful on ourselves and our families. But are you aware of how stressful moving is for your furry friends?
There are lots of details to keep in mind beyond simply packing up all of your belongings, like figuring out how to navigate a new city and preparing for your kids to switch schools. No doubt about it, moving comes with so many details to keep track of, Fido and Fifi may get overlooked in the shuffle.
Yet, all it takes is an open door on moving day to cause stress and heartbreak. Minimizing the stress of moving on your pets also helps prevent accidents and mishaps in a brand new space. Just as moving is stressful for humans, it’s extra stressful for animals because they don’t understand what’s happening and can’t mentally prepare for a new space.
At Peggy Ann's LifeMoves LLC, we love to look for ways to make your moving day simple, easy, and stress-free. While we’ll help you organize your home and coordinate your move, prevent any added concerns by preparing and planning for your fur-babies before the big day. Explore these tips for making your move as easy as possible for your pets.
Let’s start with a list to do in preparation for the move to ensure the experience is as easy as possible for you and your beloved pets--cats, dogs or otherwise.
A trip to the veterinarian is an opportunity to get a few concerns squared away before your move. Use this check-up to do the following important actions:
● Get a picture of your pet’s overall health, including their stress levels. If your pet isn’t healthy this may factor into your move and your moving preparations. Better to know this ahead of time!
● Depending on the distance of your move, you may need to find a new vet. This is an opportunity to get a recommendation from your trusted old veterinarian for a good new veterinarian. You don't want to end up in your new city with an unhealthy pet and nowhere to take them for treatment! Get the number of a vet and an emergency vet.
● Once you get a new vet lined up, don’t forget to move your pet’s veterinary records to the new clinic!
● If you’re moving across state lines, take this opportunity to ask your vet for a health certificate and any other required documentation, which varies by state. Find information for your type of pet and your state here.
Unless you’re moving around the block, you’ll probably use some type of carrier for your pet. There are a couple tricks to making this easier on yourself and your pets:
● Leave the carriers out, starting as soon as a month in advance of the move. This gives your pet a chance to sniff, swat at and generally get accustomed to their carrier. (Especially if the carrier is typically only used for trips to the vet!)
● Feed them in the carrier, even shutting the door after they’ve eaten inside a few times. Place their favorite toy inside the carrier so they get used to going in and out. Put them in the carrier and carry them around the house a bit. Whatever your method, the idea is to get them used to the carrier so they aren’t terrified of it when moving day rolls around.
● Consider giving them treats or playing with them after “carrier time.” It’s all about positive reinforcement and teaching them the carrier is safe. The carrier may even become their safe-spot and den as they adjust to their new home.
● This applies mainly to cats and dogs, since most other types of pets are already caged and are transported in their existing cages - as long as they’re well-sealed!
Planes, trains or automobiles--you and your pet are getting to your new home somehow. Different modes of travel require different tactics to keep your pets safe and happy.
If you’re driving:
● Take your pet in your own vehicle if possible. They will feel less traumatized if they recognize the smell and environment of the car they’re travelling in.
● Restrain dogs to prevent them from moving around in the vehicle or running away at a rest area. This is done with a safety harness attached to a seatbelt, a crate, or a safety gate. These choices will protect your pet and you won’t worry they’ll escape the vehicle.
● Be sure to plan extra stops for dogs to use the bathroom and run around a bit!
● If you’re staying overnight in a hotel, call in advance to ensure your chosen hotel is pet friendly! Search pet-friendly accommodations here.
If you’re flying:
● Start making travel plans well in advance and do your research on flying with pets. Pet Air Carrier is a great company that specializes in the safe transporting of pets both domestically and internationally. They take care of the process from start to finish and ensure your pet stays safe on their journey to their new home.
● Many (but not all) airlines offer options for transporting animals, but restrictions and prices will vary. It’s best to call the airline to get information tailored to your situation. Small pets (under 25 pounds) are often allowed to fly in the cabin, while larger breeds may need to fly as cargo. Generally, airlines charge a fee for pets and require a waiver of liability for their safety.
● Sick pets don’t always thrive during air travel. This is another reason to get your pet a check-up before moving. Some airlines also require a health certificate before travel.
● Use caution when flying with snub-nose breeds (French bulldogs, pugs, Persian cats and others). Many airlines won’t allow them to fly as cargo due to restricted breathing issues and changes in temperature and altitude.
● Carrier guidelines may also vary by airline.
Your pets can’t pack themselves so you need to think of everything they might need!
● Pack your pet a suitcase of their very own. Bring their favorite food, their favorite toys, treats, any medications and even water. Plan for the worst to keep your pet safe!
● You may want two suitcases - one for the car and one for when you get to your new home. You’ll be glad to access supplies for your pet if your life is in boxes!
● If you’re travelling by car with a cat, bring a disposable litter box along.
● For dogs, pack and extra leash in case they break one or it gets lost in the move.
You will probably pull off your move without a hitch. But in case the worst happens, ensure your pet’s identification is correct and up-to-date.
● Check to ensure their tags display a correct phone number, since the address might not be the best piece of information.
● Use microchip technology (and update your microchip service). This is the best way to find them if they get scared during the move and run away.
● Keep recent photos of your pets on hand to show people if they need to be identified.
Our recommendation at Peggy Ann's LifeMoves is to remove pets from the home completely on moving day. There are too many details, large and small, for you to think about - it’s easier for everyone to take pets out of the equation.
No matter how much you love your animal friends it only takes one moment for them to run out an open door or one misstep for them to get injured. Bring them to a kennel, a friend’s place, or schedule a trip to doggie day care. Plan to pick them up on your way out of town once the moving truck is packed.
If you absolutely can’t bring your pets somewhere for the day on your moving day, keep them enclosed in one room (preferably the last room emptied) while boxes are being packed and transported out of your house. Keeping them in a room with the doors closed ensures they won’t escape or get stepped on!
Even caged animals like rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, and reptiles will benefit from being kept out of the action. Animals are very sensitive to their surroundings and the commotion caused by moving will only cause them to become confused and anxious.
Lastly, remember to remain calm for your sake and the sake of your pet. They will pick up on your agitation and it will only add to the stress they are already feeling from all the commotion going on around them.
Remember: your moving crew is focused on moving your belongings quickly and efficiently. They aren’t necessarily thinking about the wellbeing of your pets!
It’s tempting to let your pets roam free in their new home right away, especially after a long trip. Resist the urge! Here are tips for the best way to help them acclimate to their new world:
Keep them in their carriers and cages while you set up as much of your new home as possible. Your new home contains many sights, smells and sounds and your pet may want to explore them all. But their noses might lead them right out the front door. They also might feel very unsettled by this drastic change of scenery and the carrier that you’ve properly trained them to enjoy will provide a safe space.
Instead of freeing them completely right away, let them out to explore a bit each day. There is a lot for them to explore and they may feel overwhelmed!
If they are doing OK with carrier life. keep them mostly confined in the carrier for a few days. Place their favorite toys and bedding inside the carrier with them.
Provide plenty of time for litter box or bathroom access. Keep dogs on a frequent walking schedule and provide a consistent spot for them to use as they get adjusted to the new space. Expect an accident or two--remember they’re learning to navigate their new home too. Don’t panic if it takes them a few days to eat and potty like normal. They may feel discombobulated for at least a few days (and sometimes even longer) following a move. Take it slow and provide plenty of routine.
Save the number of a dogwalker, petsitter, a friend or acquaintance who will come over and provide your pet with companionship and/or a walk.
You may have the best intentions to care for your pet right after the move, but you will also feel swamped with the details of setting up a new life for you and your family.
Your pet will do best with extra TLC, food, and water so hiring someone to help out is a smart idea!
At Peggy Ann's LifeMoves LLC, we’re here to help you ease the stress and strain associated with moving. Creating a clear plan, organizing ahead of time and preparing guidelines for your moving day will help ensure a stress-free move for every member of your household. We want to help you remember all the details that might slide under your radar when life gets busy--pets are one of the many areas you’ll need to plan for on the big day. Let us help you pack, plan and organize!
Moving day can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be that way. As you take your time when getting your pets used to their new home, take some for yourself as well. Prepare for your move a little at a time and don’t attempt to tackle it alone. Contact us so we can help. Use these tips to create calm before, after and during the move, and ensure your pet’s transition, as well as your own is as smooth as possible!