Moving to a new home is always a stressful experience — the packing, the heavy lifting, the cleaning…but most of us don’t stop to think about how a move might affect our pet. What’s stressful to a human may actually be terrifying to an animal who doesn’t understand what’s going on or why.
So with that in mind, here are 8 tips to help make the process easier for you and Fluffy.
Find the right neighborhood. You wouldn’t move into a new house without researching whether the neigborhood is kid-friendly. So if you have a dog, make sure the neighborhood is somewhere you’ll want to take him or her for a walk. The ASPCA recommends exploring your new potential neighborhood while keeping an eye out for other dogs that appear aggressive or left unattended.
Think about how your living space will affect your pet. Cats may not need a lot of square footage, but they need vertical space to climb. If you have an older dog or a dog with medical issues, it might not be a good idea to move into an apartment with lots of stairs. (And give the move extra-careful thought if the building doesn’t have a yard!)
Don’t pack everything all at once. Many pets don’t deal well with change — cats in particular. Bring some boxes in ahead of time to let your pet adjust to them. Pack gradually. And leave your furry friends in the room you plan to pack up last so they have a “safe” place to retreat!
If you’re moving long distance, don’t hire a pet relocation company if you can avoid it. The prices they charge are usually much higher than the actual cost of moving your pet. If you’re flying cross country or internationally, check with the airline directly to see if your pet can travel on the same flight. (You can find most airlines’ pet policies online.) You can research the requirements for importing an animal into a new country on the USDA website and on the website of the relevant government agency in your new country. Your veterinarian can help you sort out the required paperwork at a fraction of the cost a relocation company will charge.
Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, give your pet time to adjust to their travel carrier or crate in advance. Leave treats or meals in the carrier and let them enter and leave it over the course of a few days. As they become more comfortable, practice closing the door for short amounts of time. Take a short drive to get them used to traveling. Then at the end of the drive, give them a treat or play with them to reinforce positive connections and make the actual move less stressful.
Make sure to update your pet’s ID! Make sure to update your pet’s tags and microchip with your new address and phone number. Even if you keep your animal indoors, accidents can happen during the moving process. You might even want to give your new contact information to your old neighbors in case your pet gets lost close to home.
Find a new vet in advance. If you’re moving too far away to continue seeing your regular vet, ask them to recommend a new doctor in the area. Look up an emergency clinic near your new home as well. If you have the time or ability, it might even be a good idea to meet with potential new veterinarians to make sure they’re a good match.
Help your pet adjust to your new house by introducing them slowly. Start them off in one room, with their toys, water, litter, etc. Slowly open up new rooms as your pet starts to get comfortable. This will help your pet feel less overwhelmed in an unfamiliar environment.
If you follow all these steps, your pet should settle into their new home in no time. All it takes is a few simple steps to reduce your pet’s stress and anxiety throughout the process.
Photo credit: Rob Marquardt via Flickr