It’s not as simple as packing up their stuff and putting them in your car. There’s a lot of details you need to plan for.
Whether you’re moving across town or the country, moving — and all it entails — is stressful. If you’re moving with pets, not only do you have to manage and navigate your stress, but you need to make sure you’re helping your beloved pet deal with the stress of the move, too.
Pets are sensitive to human stress, so if you’re sweating your move, chances are Fido is feeling it, too. The more prepared you are for handling your move with pets, the better off you and your pet will be. By taking early actions to plan your move and factoring in your pet and their unique needs, you can set yourself up for moving day success.
The ultimate goal when moving with pets is keeping your pet safe. So, whether you have a school of fish in a giant aquarium, a small snake or your 11-year-old cat, here are ways for moving with pets that will keep both you and your pet safe and stress-free during this transitionary time.
Planning is the key to moving with pets
The last thing you want during your move is a last-minute surprise, so plan your moving day as far out as possible. Since you’ll have so much to pack and plan for, putting together a comprehensive plan for moving with pets may slip your mind.
Here’s how to get the ball rolling and help you move your pets with ease.
Decide how you’re getting to your new home
Figuring out how you’re getting to your final destination is important, especially if you’re moving across the country. You’ll need to decide if it makes sense to fly or drive to your new space. But before you make up your mind, take into consideration what’s best for your pet.
Moving long-distance? You will need to decide to fly or drive to your new home. Check airline pet policies for any specifics regarding your pet if you plan to fly. If the driving distance is four hours or less, plan to drive.
If the driving distance is longer than that but your pet has medical needs, driving remains the best option. Also, for any long-distance traveling with your pets, plan for bathroom breaks and pet-friendly accommodations.
If you’re moving nearby your current location, decide if you’re hiring a moving company or planning to DIY with a U-Haul and some friends. Once you select a moving company, make sure to let the company know that a pet is at the residence. While the moving company cannot move your pet for you, it’s important to go ahead and put your beloved companion on their radar.
Research state and local regulations
If you’re moving out of state or outside of your current ZIP Code, take time to research and read up on any state and local regulations as they pertain to your pet. Nearly every state has laws applicable to dogs, cats, birds and other pets like snakes, so make sure your pets comply with the laws of the state you’re moving to.
If you’re moving with pets and you need to go through a state border inspection, make sure you have all appropriate health certificates and paperwork for your animal. If you’re traveling to your new home by plane, you’ll need to show a health certificate and paperwork for your pet, too.
Pick up a travel carrier
Regardless of what kind of pet you have, you should plan to pick up a travel carrier. If you’re moving with pets like birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, it will be way easier to remove your pet from their aquarium, cage or vivarium and transport them via a carrier.
If your pet isn’t already crate trained or used to a travel carrier, make sure you start introducing them to a travel crate as soon as you know you’re moving. Make sure your travel carrier fits with airline guidelines if you fly. If you’re traveling by car, make sure you have a harness or seatbelt to secure your pet’s crate.
Although it’s tempting to let Fido ride shotgun to your new home, don’t let any animal roam freely in the vehicle. It’s not safe for you or your pets. Keep your snakes, lizards, turtles, cats, rabbits, dogs and frogs in their travel carriers at all times.
Schedule a veterinarian appointment
Once you have a moving plan in place, make sure it includes taking your beloved pet to the veterinarian. You’ll want to make sure your pet’s health records are up to date, and if they need any inoculations or boosters, this would be an ideal time to get them.
While at the vet, ask about prescribing your pet medication to help ease their nervous system on moving day. Your vet can also go over any warning signs or unusual behaviors you should look out for as your beloved companion settles into the new environment.
Review identification tags
Make sure your pets, especially cats and dogs, have identification tags. If your indoor kitty typically doesn’t wear an identification tag, go ahead and get one made and put it on your cat before moving day.
Identification tags should include your pet’s name, your name, your phone number and your address. Since you’re relocating, go ahead and include your new address on the tag, if possible.
Your pets, especially dogs, cats and birds, will know something is up when you bring home boxes and start packing up your space. To keep your pets as stress-free as possible, set up designated packing areas in your house. Keep some rooms or areas box-free.
Additionally, stay mindful of what you’re packing. If you’re handling any cleaning supplies or materials that could harm your pets, make sure you don’t leave boxes open or in places your pet could get into.
Create a travel kit specific to your pet
Since you know your animal best, build a pet travel kit specifically for your companion. No matter what type of pet you have, make sure their health certificates go into this kit.
Here’s what else you should consider adding:
- Pet’s regular food
- Travel-sized or collapsable food and water dishes
- Blanket or towel
- Favorite toy
- Extra paper towels
- Plastic bags to clean up after your pet
- Prescribed medication from your veterinarian
- A leash
- An extra bottle of water
- Spray bottle (for pets that need to stay moist)
Move through moving day
Ready or not, moving day will arrive with a vengeance. Ideally, you have already taken care of everything that needs to get done for your move, including anything pertaining to your beloved pet.
Here are day-of tips for moving with pets:
- Put someone in charge of your pet. Whether it’s you, a friend or hired pet sitter, appoint someone to take care of your pet’s needs for the whole day. This person needs to safely and securely keep the pet out the way and help with any needs like feeding or walking.
- Reduce food intake for your pet by one-third the day before and the day of your move. This will help quell their stomach, whether you’re going by car or airplane.
- If you have a prescription for calming medication from your veterinarian, administer it to your pet at least 30 minutes before your movers arrive.
- Find a room that you can put your pet in with his crate and toys that’s separate from the chaos of movers, boxes and heavy lifting.
- Remind movers and anyone helping you that you have a pet. Tell them where your pet is, so they can use extra caution if they need to go near the area.
- Double-check that your pet travel kit is ready to go.
- Make sure identification tags are on your pets.
- Secure all crates and cages from the outside. Make sure your dog can’t easily open the door to his crate and that your boa constrictor can’t move the lid off its carrier.
- Stay aware of the temperature outside, especially if you have pets that are sensitive to extreme heat or cold.
- When you get to your new space, don’t let your pet roam freely right away. Section your pet off to one room, so they can get acclimated while you move in. Wait until all the movers are gone and then slowly introduce your pet to other spaces.
Help your pet settle in
It doesn’t matter if you’re a human or a pet newt, moving takes a lot out of you. Give yourself and your pet some time to settle into your new home. The more relaxed you are in your new environment, the more relaxed your pet will be.
To help your beloved pet find its footing, arrange a space exclusively for your pet to make theirs in your new home. The more this area is similarly arranged to the last place, the better. If you need to set up your frog’s vivarium, aim to recreate an environment as close to how it previously was. Animals, especially dogs and cats, will find comfort in the scent from your old place, so make sure to not wash your dog’s favorite blanket.
During this settling-in period, keep a close eye on your pet as they get used to their new space. Yes, your pet will probably experience some stress on moving day but if you notice any weird behavior or anything causing you concern, call your veterinarian immediately. Also, if you moved to a new area — go ahead and start looking for a new veterinarian practice that can help take care of your pet and all its future needs.
Home sweet home
Whether it takes a few days or a month to turn your new space into a place that feels like home, at least you’ll have your beloved pet! While daunting, moving with pets is 100 percent worth it. They’re family, after all.