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Make Moving with Pets a Breeze

Essential Tips for Smooth Transitions

Moving can be an overwhelming experience for anyone, but it can be particularly stressful when you have furry friends in tow. Our furry companions thrive on routine and familiarity, so all the changes and stress that go along with moving can cause anxiety and confusion. However, with some careful planning and consideration, you can make the transition to a new place smoother for both you and your beloved companions. Here are some general tips, whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, along with a few specifics tailored to cats and dogs.

General Tips

  1. Plan Ahead: Start preparing for the move well in advance. This includes researching pet-friendly accommodations, ensuring your new home is safe for your pets, and ensuring your pets are up-to-date on any necessary vaccinations and paperwork if you’re moving across state lines or overseas. 

  1. Maintain Routine: Keep your pets' daily routines as consistent as possible during the moving process. Stick to regular feeding times, walks, and play sessions to provide them with a sense of stability. This can be particularly important during the packing phase. Your pet is likely to become anxious with the increase of boxes and changes in the household. It can also be helpful to keep a space for your pets that is moving box-free. And remember that cats love to hide in different spaces, so be sure they aren’t hiding in a box before it gets sealed! 

  1. Update Identification: Make sure your pets wear up-to-date identification tags with your contact information. Get them microchipped if they aren't already, as this can be a lifesaver if they get lost during the move. If your pet is already microchipped, be sure the chip is registered with your most current and up-to-date information. It’s also good to have an emergency contact listed who can reach you during the transition. 

  1. Pack a Bag: Be sure to pack a bag for your pet’s supplies. Remember to include food, medication, toys, and treats. Wet wipes, extra towels, and bedding can also be great to have handy and help provide your pet with a sense of comfort. Having their own travel bag allows you to keep everything together. 

  1. Transportation: Whether you're traveling by car or plane, ensure your pets are safely secured during the journey. Use carriers or crates that are comfortable and spacious enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. Ensure your pet has their identification on during the entire trip. Keep leashes for potty breaks during road trips and always have a spare! Check with airlines for proper pet care during flights. 

  1. Create a Safe Space: Set up a designated area in your current home as you prepare for the move. Plan to do the same in your new home. This should be a quiet room with familiar toys, bedding, and food/water bowls. This can be the place where your pet stays while boxes and furniture are being moved in and out to ensure they don’t escape out the door. If there isn’t a good place for this in either situation, consider boarding your dog or cat for the days and nights that the most activity is happening. Once everything is inside, bringing your pet into the new home can be less stressful.

  2. New Rules, Boundaries and Routines: While moving is often stressful for everyone involved it can be a good time to establish new rules, boundaries, and routines. For example, if you don’t want your dog sleeping in bed, you can establish a new sleeping routine in the new environment. The same can be true for cats. If they used to have a litter box in your living room, now can be a good time to put it somewhere else in your house.

Tips for Cats in the New Place

  1. Provide Hiding Places: Cats are notorious for being skittish in new environments. Offer plenty of hiding spots, where they can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. If your kitty is very anxious or stressed, limiting their access to one room with their litter box, food, and water can help provide them with a safe space until they are settled in enough to explore other parts of their new home. 

  2. Use Pheromone Products: Using synthetic pheromone diffusers or sprays can help calm anxious cats. These products mimic natural feline pheromones and can have a soothing effect on stressed-out kitties.

  3. Establish and Stick to Routines: Begin establishing new routines for playtime as soon as possible, since play can be a great way to ease anxiety. Figure out where you’re planning to keep your cat's litter box, scratching posts, and favorite perches, and get them set up. This will provide them with a sense of familiarity and help them adjust more quickly to their new surroundings. 

  4. Keep Them Indoors: Even if your cat wandered in your yard at your previous home, a new environment comes with a lot of new hazards and an increase in wandering off. Moving is an excellent time to update the rules to no cats outside. And it can be just as well that the change of home comes with a change of rules.   

Tips for Dogs in the New Place

  1. Exercise Before Travel: Tire out your dog with plenty of exercise before the move. A long walk or vigorous play session will help burn off excess energy and make them more relaxed during travel. It can also be good to take them for a walk once you arrive at your new home before taking them inside to explore. 

  2. Unpack Familiar Items: Unpack the bag you packed with your dog's favorite toys, blankets, and bedding to provide them with a sense of comfort and familiarity in their new environment. Set their beds and bowls up and give them a space of their own. 

  3. Establish Their New Routine: Dogs thrive on routine, so try to establish and maintain their usual schedule as much as possible. This includes feeding times, walks, and potty breaks.

  4. Explore the Area and Make Gradual Introductions: When moving to a new neighborhood or apartment complex, introduce your dog to their new surroundings gradually. Take them for short walks or let them explore the area on leash to familiarize themselves with the sights and smells. Be patient and allow them to sniff and explore at their own pace. Remember to keep things positive, especially when meeting new neighbors. If you have a fenced in yard, be sure to supervise your dog when you take them off leash to ensure they can’t find a place to escape. 

These tips can help alleviate some of the stress associated with moving for both you and your pets. Remember to be patient and understanding during the transition period, as it may take some time for your furry friends to adjust to their new home. With love, patience, and a little extra TLC, you can make moving with pets a smooth and hassle-free experience for everyone involved.

About the Author: Anna Henley

Anna Henley is a co-founder and former board member of Pet Community Center and currently serves on their Marketing Committee. She has 20 years of experience in animal welfare, including working at animal shelters in three states, volunteering with multiple rescue groups, and helping people and rescue groups with pet training and behavior services.

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