Moving is often very difficult for people, but we forget how anxious it can make our pets. It’s very stressful when there’s an unexpected activity in their home. Same goes when they see a new environment. We’ve moved people with multiple pets, including fish, parrots and guinea pigs. It’s not an easy task for the cute critters. Moving with pets includes challenges that don’t come with a formula solution. However, we have tips that should make the experience more calm for your beloved companions.
Before actually moving with pets you need to make some preparations:
The most important thing any pet owner can do before moving with their pets is planning well ahead and stay organised. Furthermore, if you are moving with children as well as pets, it is crucial you plan every step and check everything several times. Both your kids and your pets will demand a lot of attention. Here’s how to handle it:
If your cat’s only exposure to a carrier was when she came home from the shelter, it is clever to leave it where she can examine it daily. Put your cat’s favourite toy in the carrier, and reward her when she goes inside. Set the carrier up well in advance, so your cat will get used to it and stop being afraid of it. Give her time to like it and realize it is part of your home, something hers. That way, when she feels stressed, she’ll even hide in the carrier during the move, instead of in a suitcase.
Dogs are somewhat easier to travel with. However, if your dog’s only experience in a car was short, you’ll want him to be able to ride in the car for longer periods of time. Start a few weeks before your move. Positive association with car rides will help decrease anxiety.
Moving with pets means you’ll need carriers
Cats should always stay in a hard-sided carrier, just like other small animals, such as rabbits, ferrets and birds. They should have enough room on either side of the carrier. We recommend covering the carrier with a light blanket for the first few hours of the trip. This is good because cats get anxious when they see the world moving by. They relax after a few hours. Then you can remove the sheet.
Dogs should have safety harnesses which attach to any seat belt. Put buying them on your inventory list because you can’t just use a leash during the move. They should be able to sit or stand comfortably. Consider having mesh or metal safety gates, that allow more mobility in a restricted area. An agitated dog can compromise your control of the car while driving. Be cautious because a disoriented dog could escape from the vehicle at a roadside stop.
Pack a “first aid / carry on” when moving with pets
Pack a separate bag for your animal. Also, bring his favourite food and a gallon of water. Include their favourite toy for comfort. If you are travelling with cats, they can go eight to 10 hours without using a litter box. Just in case, bring along a disposable litterbox for emergencies or overnight stops. You will also need to bring a pet first aid kit and some extra towels, in case of accidents.
Keep a current health certificate for your pet handy during interstate travel, because many states require one. Highway patrols can inspect your pet’s passport if they stop you for whatever reason.
Contact your vet before moving with pets
If you’re moving cross country, you’ll need to find reliable movers, especially if pets are involved. If you were wondering how to find the ideal mover for you, asking the hard questions is the way to go. Start with info about moving with pets. Also, before relocating your beloved animals, inform your vet. He or she will give you records and prescription medications your pet may need. Maybe they can even recommend another vet in your new neighbourhood.
If you are relocating close by, keep your animal out of the chaos
During the move, the best way to reduce stress on an animal is to keep them out of it. Of course, if you are moving to another state, this is not possible. But if you are moving across town or to the same neighbourhood, here are some options:
- You can leave pets with a friend they are familiar with. That way they’ll miss you but won’t be under too much stress.
- Maybe you can leave them in a kennel for the day if you don’t have friends available.
- But if you don’t want to do that, try emptying a bedroom and closing the door, or putting them in their carrier or kennel in the garage.
- Either way, make sure you check in on them regularly and try to feed or walk them at the time you usually would. They like routine, so that could help a lot in all the commotion.
- Only when you get settled in after you move house can you move your pet. Set up as much as you can, before you introduce the animal to the new home. Give them a section of the house while they slowly adjust to their surroundings. Give them a lot of attention and play with familiar toys to make them feel at home.
Update your pet’s info right after the move
Moving with pets is a big responsibility. Don’t forget to update your pets’ tags and microchip information. Your new address and phone number have to be added to their tags and microchip as soon as you relocate.
Moving with pets: fish edition
Believe it or not, fish respond strongly to stress and a move can be a shock, and even fatal. Transport them in bags filled with their old tank water, but just for short distances. Try your local aquarium store for supplies and more advice. If you have a long distance to travel, unfortunately, it’s best to give them a new home. Then empty your tank, and buy new fish after you unpack.
Moving with pets: Guinea pigs on a road trip
Guinea pigs are known to suffer from changing surroundings and being moved around. Their hearts are fragile, so be very careful with guinea pigs. Make sure they are transported in a warm, comfortable carrier. Give them lots of attention, pet them and feed them in your regular routine.
Moving with pets: Feathered friends
Last, but not least – birds! Sadly, a lot of feathered friends have been known to fly away on moving day. Many people proudly say that their bird is well trained and would never fly off their shoulder. Then they tragically watch their beloved friend fly away on moving day in the midst of all the chaos. Like most pets, they are very anxious about change. Please use a cage when moving with bird pets on relocation day.