Moving can present numerous challenges, especially with pets. While one
person’s move can vary greatly from another’s there are some
common steps that can be taken to reduce a pet’s stress. Often the
most stressful part of a move is the actual travel to the new place, particularly
if moving a great distance. Some dogs may enjoy car rides, but most cats
and some dogs will not. Keeping them safe, secure, and comfortable is important.
A good well ventilated carrier is important particularly for cats, and can
be an excellent choice for dogs too. This keeps them protected and keeps
driver and passengers protected. Cats under the pedals and dogs in the driver’s
lap can be dangerous for all those in or near the vehicle. Carriers can be
more comforting than an open car to some pets too. Getting a pet adapted
to a carrier prior to travel can help in making a trip easier.
Dogs do have more vehicle traveling options than cats. While many dogs can
travel well in a car, it is still important to keep them restrained particularly
on long trips. A dog that commonly takes ten to fifteen minute car rides
to the park or to the store may react differently and become antsy if cooped
up for extended time. There are vehicle harnesses/safety belts that are easy
to use, keep a dog’s movements limited, keep him safer, and can be
easily transitioned to a walking harness. Some find vehicle barriers helpful
allowing the dog to have more room in the back of a car or SUV.
Planning for the details of a trip helps. Keeping your pet contained when
movers come or when packing up a vehicle is typically needed. Looking into
pet friendly hotels and making reservations can save immense aggravation.
Acquiring ID tags with your new address and phone number prior to the move
is also wise. Leaving a pet alone in a vehicle can be dangerous, particularly
in hot or cold weather. If traveling via airplane contact the airline to
ensure you know all the rules and regulations prior to arriving. Smaller
pets are often allowed to travel in the cabin with you if their carrier fits
under the seat. This can save the pet a considerable amount of stress that
would come from traveling with the luggage. Herbal relaxers, and sometimes
sedatives can help pets that experience considerable stress when moving.
However, sedatives are often not recommended with air travel as they will
need to be alert to help keep themselves safe particularly if traveling in
cargo. If moving abroad there is a considerable amount of research that needs
to be done in regards to traveling and bring a pet into another country.
Finally, pets need to acclimate to the new home. I recently moved, and while
the travel aspect of the move was fairly minor (just a few minutes of howling
cats), I did find their comfort level increased dramatically as particular
items were unpacked. Most notably was unpacking a couple cat beds, which
I gave little consideration prior to the move as they were only occasionally
used by my two cats. However, when I unpacked them a few days after the move
the change in attitude was dramatic. Both cats immediately jumped in the
beds and started rolling around and purring. If they were able to smile they
would have. My cat Jake who had been moping around and staying in bed most
of the day immediately started to return to his old happy self. If a pet
has a favorite toy, bed, or other object, this can be a significant comfort
to them. Certain pets can be quite possessive of ‘things’. While
it may not seem that important to an owner to some pets certain items are
very important to them. Obviously items like bowls, food, litter boxes, and
leashes will need to be readily accessible too. Also, setting up a quiet
spot for a pet in a new home will give them a comfortable place while they
adjust to the new smells and sounds around them. Also, bringing forward some
of your old routines such as playtimes and feeding times can help them reestablish
themselves quicker. Typically with a little time and consideration most pets
adjust to their new homes well.