While moving is very high on the stress meter for humans, pets often experience great anxiety, as well. Not only are they being uprooted from a familiar environment where they have a specific set of routines and known territory, they also have to deal with being surrounded by disarray and increased people activity while making the transition to a new home. Plus, pets can sense their owners’ stress levels, which quite often makes them feel even more anxious.
As I am a pro at moving with pets, in that I have done so on a number of occasions, I came up with the following helpful tips for other pet parents who are in the process of moving with their companion critters.
Keep Pets in a Safe Place During the Move
Many pets will get spooked with all of the activity involved with moving. There may be strange people in the form of movers in their midst. Doors will more than likely be left open for long periods of time. Thus, pets may hide or, worse, escape. With all of the frenzied activity, you may lose track of your pets’ whereabouts. So try to be mindful of them at all times.
You may want to keep smaller pets and cats in a crate or carrier while moving to and from your old and new homes. Or you might consider hiring a dog sitter to keep an eye on your pooch. If the move to your new home is relatively close to your old home, you could have the sitter accompany your dog during the process. Regardless, never leave pets unattended during a move, in order to avoid any potential tragedies.
Sedation Might Help Pets During the Move
For pets that are extremely anxious, or for very long moves, it might be a good idea to get a mild sedative from your vet, which you can administer prior to leaving. I did this with my late cats, Amanda and Daisy, when we moved halfway across the country, back in 2003. Not only did this calm them, they slept like babies during the very long car ride.
As for Murphy and Lily, we didn’t have that far to go; the move was only 60 miles away. So I simply sprayed the insides of their carriers with some Sentry Calming Spray, a pheromone product that did the trick.
For Long Moves with Pets, Book Overnight Accommodations
If you are moving to a faraway place by motor vehicle, it’s best to spend nights in accommodations along the way. There are now a great number of pet-friendly hotels, motels and inns in the U.S. Not only do they welcome animals, many provide loads of amenities for pets such as doggie parks, pet dining options, pet sitter services, grooming and more.
There are many websites geared especially toward people who travel with pets, which supply the names of places to stay , and list what they have to offer. Among these are BringFido.com and TakeYourPet.com. General travel websites such as Expedia also provide listings of pet-friendly accommodations. Just be sure to book in advance, and inquire about amenities and policies.
Take the Right Supplies
The first thing I tell people who are moving with pets is to take along a generous supply of water from their previous home. Many pets will get upset stomachs when drinking unfamiliar water. Also take along lots of washcloths or clean rags for quick cleanups, water and food bowls, and a first aid kit designed especially for pets. You can learn more about this from my article on Dogster.
If you are making a long move with cats that requires hotel stays, you should bring the following items:
A disposable litter box: You can find these in many pet stores and supermarkets. These are made from dense cardboard or thin plastic, and are already pre-filled with enough litter to last a couple of days. You just peel off the wrapper and place in a hotel bathroom. And don’t forget the scooper.
Disposable paper bowls: For your cats’ food and water. And don’t forget the food, because you may not find a store that carries your cats’ favorite brands on the road, or the stores may be closed if you arrive at your temporary destination late at night.
Water from home, or bottled water: In order to prevent upset kitty tummies due to unfamiliar hotel water.
Favorite toys and blanket: So kitties can feel secure during your stay in a strange place.
If your pets require medication, be sure to keep that in a handy place for easy access. And make note of the names and addresses of emergency vet clinics along the way, just in case your pet becomes ill or has a mishap during your travels.
Procedures for your pets’ bathroom business should be first and foremost. If you are a dog parent, find out the best places to walk your pup in your new area.
This can be a bit trickier for cat parents. My last apartment was very large, and had a spacious walk-in laundry room where I conveniently kept my cats’ litter box. My new apartment is much smaller, and doesn’t have a separate laundry room or closet that can accommodate a kitty potty.
As I had to resort to keeping a littler box in my bathroom, I purchased an attractive hooded model from Petmate, and put it in the space between the toilet and vanity sink. These come in various decorator colors (I opted for pink, because it matches my bathroom decor). Voila! The litter is shielded from view, the box is pretty, and my kitties can do their business in privacy and style.
Another very important tip is to become familiar with any potential dangers that your new home may present to your pets. Make sure that there all potential escape routes, balconies, furniture and other objects are safe and secure.
If you would like to share any tips about moving with pets, you are welcome to do so in the comments section below. That said, I wish you and your pets the best of luck and happiness in your new home!
Photos by Alissa Wolf