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Moving with Pets

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.




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