Moving Your Four Legged Children
Your pets are permanent members of your family, and when you move to a new home, it’s important to remember that the process will stress them out too. In fact, change can be so stressful that traveling pet owners often book pet-sitting services instead of boarding their pets or bringing them along on vacations. Of course, you can’t skip the stressful journey this time, but you can prepare your pets for the experience by making gradual changes and keeping them secure throughout the transition.
Plan Ahead with Gradual Changes
Start with the travel carriers you’ll use for the trip. Confinement during long trips is absolutely essential, because you don’t want your pets to create driving hazards inside the vehicle or get lost during a stop or accident. However, they may associate their carrier with stressful vet visits, and it’s never too early to start conditioning them by creating positive associations instead.
Leave carriers open with treats or toys inside, and let your pets explore them. Cats will be drawn to the comfort of these enclosed spaces, and you won’t have to force them inside when it’s time to go. Take your pets on brief car rides before the move, too. If they get motion sickness or shake with terror no matter how many rides they take, ask your veterinarian for suggestions or prescriptions that will help.
Do Your Research
If you’re moving to a new state or city, research local requirements for vaccinations and pet permits. Government agencies, landlords, and even home owner associations may have breed or species restrictions, and most will require proof that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. It’s also important to find a new veterinarian, secure health records from their current vet, and locate dog parks and pet-sitters near your new home. Regardless of your new home town legal requirements, your pets should also be micro chipped and vaccinated before the move.
To keep the journey itself stress-free, make sure you also research rest stops and pet-friendly hotels along the way. You’ll need to stop for bathroom and fresh water breaks every few hours, and overnight stays break up the long journey and give everyone a chance to recharge. After you check into your room, never leave your pets loose and unattended. Housekeeping staff could accidentally let them out, or they could escape when you return. When you’re on the road, keep them collared or leashed and make sure your vaccine and veterinary records are readily accessible.
Keep them Safe as You Pack and Leave
As you pack and move your belongings, there will be a flurry of unusual activity and unknown people coming in and out of your home. Fear or stress may prompt your pets to make quick escapes, and if they have to watch their whole environment disappear, it will set the tone for a difficult transition. Don’t expect your movers to close doors behind them – or your pets to stay out of the way as they carry heavy furniture and boxes. Instead, make life easier for everyone by keeping your pets confined to a single room and shutting the door.
You may pack this room first or last, but it’s important to pick a room that you won’t need to access frequently on moving day. Fill it with familiar beds, toys, blankets, and all the essentials they’ll need throughout the day, such as food bowls, water bowls or fountains, and a litter box if you have cats. You may even want to play white noise or turn on a TV to block out unfamiliar voices and footsteps. This room will be their “home base” until you leave, and you should establish a similar safe space in your new home as soon as you arrive.
Want to Learn More?
A state-by-state interactive map that allows pet owners to easily view the specific veterinary health certificates, permits, and vaccinations that are required to move their pet to a new state.
Here are some other great articles about moving with pets.