Moving with your furry (or scaly, or feathered) friend
Updated: May 12, 2021
Moving is stressful enough for you; imagine what it must feel like to be pet! Liz and Ellie will share some tips that will help ease the transition for your beloved buddy.
A few weeks before moving, talk to your pet’s veterinarian and get a copy of all records and shots (especially rabies- that’s an important one). Is your animal prone to motion sickness or does it get anxious when traveling? If so, consider asking for a mild sedative to ease the stresses of travel.
Plan for how your pet will make the actual move. Will it drive with you? If so, how will you secure your pet in the car? Will you be flying? What arrangements need to be made with the airline?If driving or flying are not options for your pet, consider hiring an animal relocation company (like this one) that will take care of all the details for you.
Finally, if you’re moving out of state, check out that state’s Department of Animal Husbandry or the state’s veterinarian to make sure you’re following all guidelines, especially if you have a pet that may be restricted in some states.
Pack a Bag for Fido
No matter how he’s moving, he needs his stuff. Pack a bag with fresh water, food/treats (and bowls for them), blankets, toys, collar and leash or harness. For cats, bring the litter box and a scoop. Finally, make sure you have your pet’s veterinary information and any pertinent records. Consider microchipping your pet, as well. If your dog bolts from the car at the rest stop, it’s the best chance he has of being returned safely to you. That movie Homeward Bound made us all cry with joy when the pets found their way home, but trust me, it was just a movie!
As soon as you arrive, find a safe spot for your pet to be for the first few days. Keep your routines in place so she can adapt more quickly to the new surroundings. Find a local veterinarian, some great dog parks (or consider building a catio for kitty), and enjoy your new home with your animal.
Cats in general and some dogs are more sensitive to moving than other animals. They may need you to do some extra planning to ensure a smooth relocation.
Buy or borrow a hard carrier. Don’t skimp and use a cardboard box that’s left over from packing! Your pet could shred the box and escape in a panic. That would be the MOST stressful outcome of your move. Put the carrier out in advance of the move, and put treats, catnip, or a snuggly blanket in there so it’s not a scary foreign place on the day of the move.
Pets thrive on routine, so keep things as normal as possible for as long as you can. Put boxes out early so he can explore them, nap in them, and get used to them.
If your destination is several hours away, consider visiting your pet’s veterinarian and get a sedative that will keep her calm so you can carry on.
On the day of your move, close your pet in quiet room with the cozy carrier, and notify your movers and friends to keep the door closed.
Feed her a small meal the morning of the move- you don’t want a motion-sick pet.
During the trip, put a cloth over the carrier to help your pet feel totally enclosed and safe. Especially if he hasn’t been in the car before, the sight of “moving” trees and such could cause stress.
Once you arrive at your new home, find a quiet room and start your pet out there. Put food, water, cozy blankets and favorite toys in this space. Spend time with her so she knows she’s safe. She may stay here for a few days, or even a few weeks. As you see her relax, gradually open up new spaces. And remember: if you move your kitty’s litter box, do so in stages, so she doesn’t lose track of it.
Before you know it, your buddy will be back on the furniture; that’s how you know you’re home.