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How To Help Your Pet Transition To A New Home

How To Help Your Pet Transition To A New Home

Your pets are an integral part of your life, but unlike your human family members, they don’t understand what a move entails. Even young children learn there’s a new home awaiting them, but there’s no way to help your pet understand ahead of time (especially if they think every car ride means a trip to the veterinarian.) To make the transition easier on you and your pets, follow these guidelines from animal experts.

Before You Move

Depending on where and how you’re moving you’ll need to stock up on supplies. Whether they’re traveling across town or across the country, pets need a carrier large enough to allow the animal to sit, stand and lie down, according to ASPCA and Petco professionals. A sturdy carrier protects your pet, but it also ensures your safety by keeping a frightened animal from trying to hide behind your legs as you drive. Toys can also be reassuring to pets, so put a few favorites in the carrier.
dog in crate
Pets thrive on routine so a dramatic disruption in the rhythms of everyday life like moving can be stressful. To help your pets adjust, make the supplies they’ll encounter during the move more familiar to them. Give your pet access to carriers, travel toys, pet beds and other items that will make the trip. On moving day, your pet will accept going into the carrier more easily if it recognizes it as a safe space.

Arrange a vet visit a few weeks in advance of moving day. Your vet can prescribe sedatives for nervous pets, but avoid giving tranquilizers on your own; travel can stress an animal’s system and cause adverse reactions to unfamiliar medications. If your pet doesn’t already have an identifying microchip, consider getting your pet chipped as a precaution against getting lost. It’s also a good time to update ID tags for your pet with your new address.

The Day of the Move

Your moving and shipping crew will be going in and out constantly on moving day, so isolate pets with food and water to keep the animals calm and prevent escapes. By hiring a quality residential shipping company you can greatly reduce the burden of stress put on yourself, and trust me your animals will notice the difference. Make sure to take a few minutes throughout the move to spend some quiet time with your pets; they find your company reassuring, and you’ll enjoy the break too.

Traveling by Road

During a road trip, dogs need frequent breaks at rest stops to stretch their legs and heed nature’s call. Cats may cry or become agitated for the first few miles but typically settle in and sleep after the car has been on the road for a few miles. When you stop for a rest break, set a litter pan in the pet carrier. Cats and dogs both need access to food and water throughout the journey, so check travel feeders often and refill the compartments as needed.

It’s great if your dog likes the open road as much as you do, but don’t let an unharnessed animal crane its head out of a wide-open window. An agitated dog could leap from a window if it sees or smells something exciting on the side of the road. At high speeds, road debris could injure your pet. Your dog may not like it, but keep windows open only slightly.

moving house with dogs

Flying with Pets

Airlines have specific regulations on shipping pets, so to avoid issues on the day of your flight, check beforehand about any special information you should know. Some airlines allow small dogs and cats in the passenger compartment while others require them to go into baggage. VCA Animal Hospitals professionals recommend seeking your vet’s advice about flight-ready pet carriers.

Getting Settled in Your New Home

Your pets will settle into their new home more quickly when the new place feels as close as possible to the old one. Put out the animals’ favorite toys, familiar blankets and pet beds. For the first few hours, leave the animal in an enclosed space such as a bathroom. Set the pet carrier inside, open the door and let your pet get used to this small room first. Pet-proof the home before letting your animals have the run of the house.

Molly's Dog Bed

Molly’s Dog Bed (Photo credit: Howard O. Young)

Pets in new environments often deal with digestive issues, which can be upsetting for owners too. Keep your pets comfortable by sticking to a familiar food and regular feeding times. If there’s room in your car or moving van, pack a few gallons of water from the old home and mix it with the water in your new city until your pet gets accustomed to it. This is not the time to try a new brand of food or a new cat litter; familiarity is key to successful transitions.

Moving is exciting for you, but pets can find change scary. Help them settle in and enjoy their new surroundings by giving them familiar foods, favorite toys and plenty of love.

Featured images:

By Brett Dugan

Provided by Brett Dugan on behalf of Craters & Freighters 

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Barks From The Pack

  • “Your post is really very helpful. Pets are the best companion of the human being and if we insure ourselves then they are also part of our family and their insurance is also mandatory. I have done this for my dog and would recommend others also.”
    -- Emily Roeds

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