Most people know that moving is a stressful process. Humans are lucky enough to have the ability to understand the reasons for moving. Whether it’s a new job, change or scenery or housing upgrade, there’s usually an explanation for the move. For pets, however, a move is a major cause of stress. No matter how well you communicate with your pets, there’s no way to explain why you’re packing up the house.
These tips will help walk you through the process of moving with pets. If you follow these steps, your pets should be able to make the transition safely and comfortably.
Choosing the Right Home for Your Pets
Before you purchase or lease a new home, be sure to think about your pets. A small apartment, for example, probably isn’t the ideal location for your large breed puppy. For pet owners with small pets or pets that have difficulty walking, a home with a lot of stairs may not be the best choice. You should try to think about four-legged members of your family as your search for your next home.
Dog owners should search for houses with ample square footage for a dog. Depending on your dog’s breed and energy levels, you’ll want to find a location with outdoor space as well. An energetic dog would probably enjoy a large yard or nearby park where he can run and play as much as he needs. An older dog with less energy may be okay with a small yard or grassy patch for relieving himself.
Cat owners, on the other hand, may want to think in terms of vertical spaces. Cats enjoy climbing and perching in higher spots around rooms. Finding a home with tall ceilings or lots of built-in shelving can make excellent hiding spots for cats. If you allow your cats to go outside, make sure your neighborhood is safe and there aren’t dogs or other predators in the area.
Preparing for the Move
As you get ready to make your big move, give your animals a chance to prepare. Many pets haven’t spent long periods of time in crates or cages. Acclimate your pets to their cage or carrier well before the move. One way to get them used to their carrier is to start feeding pets inside the cage. This makes going inside the carrier a pleasant experience with a reward.
If you’re moving to a new area, you should contact your vet and get your pet’s medical records. Before moving is also an excellent time to have your pets into the vet for a regular checkup. Make sure you have proper identification and consider microchipping pets if they’re not already. For interstate moves, you’ll want to find out if there are restrictions to moving pets across states lines. Some states may require identification and vaccine records for any new animals entering the state.
You can also help prepare pets for the move by taking them for car rides each day leading up to the official move date. Lengthen the amount of time spent in the car each time you go out. If possible, try to take pets with you as you run short errands, such as a trip to the store or bank. Be sure to secure your pet safely while driving. Your pet roaming about the cabin could be a serious distraction. Check out other ways to avoid distracted driving to ensure your furry animal is safe at all times. You can encourage good car behavior with treats, toys and praise for your pet.
Keeping Pets Comfortable During Packing
Packing may be one of the most stressful times for pets when moving. Their world is suddenly being changed as you pack away all your belongings into unfamiliar boxes. You may have friends and family coming over to help pack, causing more commotion than your pets are used to. Cats are especially known to react badly to stress. Try to bring moving boxes into your home well before you begin packing and take your time packing your things.
Keep pets in a quiet room with their favorite bedding or toys while you move things out of your home. The last thing you need while moving things out of your home is a pet to slip out the door. It would be helpful to pack a light bag of pet essentials for the first few days in the new home. This should include all the food, litter, medicine, toys and bedding. By packing a light bag, you won’t have to dig and search for those items amongst all the moving boxes.
The Journey to Your New Home
The actual drive to the new house can cause a lot of stress for most pets. While some pets, especially high-energy dogs, may enjoy riding in cars, most do not. Even if you’ve worked with your pets on preparing for the ride, they will likely still feel uncomfortable. You may want to withhold food for shorter journeys to avoid any accidents while traveling. Water, however, should be offered at every stop so your pets remain hydrated.
During the drive, it may be a good idea to put a towel or light blanket over your pet’s crate or carrier. The blanket removes the constantly changing scenery from your pet’s view and can help them stay calm. Once at your new home, remove your pet from the commotion of unloading. Don’t release your pet from its crate or carrier until after everything is inside and doors are securely closed. When you do let your pet out, start in a smaller room. If possible, move the rest of the house before you bring pets over so furniture and other items can be set up and familiar to your animals.
For cat owners, it’s usually a good idea to keep your kitty contained in a small room for the first day or two. You can then slowly let your cat out to more rooms in the house and put them back in their small room at night. This room can become a safe and comfortable space for your cat as he gets used to the new home.
Making Your New Home Comfortable for Furry Family Members
Most pets will settle into their new environment in a few days to a few weeks. Dogs tend to settle in faster than cats. If you have multiple species or pets in your home, make sure to monitor behavior. A stressed pet that used to get along with furry siblings may suddenly become agitated or aggressive. Stressed animals may go off their food. Be sure to monitor food and water intake of pets so you’re sure they’re eating and drinking properly.
Even though moving is a stressful time for you, it’s important to spend a lot of time in your new house with your pets. It’s tempting to head out to explore your new neighborhood, but staying at home for some time can be calming to your furry friends. Even a pet that wants to be left alone will likely feel more comfortable if you’re in a nearby room. Eventually, with lots of positive attention and reinforcements, your pets will come to see your new house as home.