Moving residence is stressful for pets, especially for those with anxiety issues. Whether it’s across town or across the country, changes in routine and environment can cause distress. Here are some ways to reduce pets’ (and your) stress when moving.

Keep yourself calm. Pets pick up on their humans’ moods. When you’re frazzled, fed up, or angry, they know. Express a positive and calm attitude whenever possible. Be mindful during the busyness to give extra attention and love to assure your pets all is well even in the chaos.

Keep routines as normal as possible for as long as possible. Pets rely on routine for comfort. Stick to usual times for feeding, administering medications, walking and playing, and sleeping whenever possible.

Dedicate a space for pets. Pick a room with a closable door to serve as a safe and secure retreat. Set up the space with pets’ crates, toys, blankets, food and water dishes, and possibly a litter pan for cats. It may also be beneficial to create a hiding spot for pets within this room. To reduce stranger stress and prevent escapes, keep pets in this room behind a closed door when moving boxes and furniture in/out of the house.

Visit their doctor. Prior to your move, schedule a wellness check. Get your pet up to date with necessary vaccinations, and stock up on medications and prescription foods. Depending on your destination, you may be required to have a health certificate from your veterinarian. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, have it done and make sure registration is current to your new location just before moving.

Pack a bag for your pet. Dedicate a bag or a tote specifically for pets to keep all their necessaries together and accessible. Pack it with medication, travel dishes, a first aid kit, vaccination and microchip records, a favorite toy, a blanket, a sweater, and anything else your pet may need during the move.

Research caretakers and businesses. If you’re moving far enough away, you’ll need a new veterinarian. You may also need a sitter/walker and groomer. Well before moving, do as much research as possible into these. Ask your current veterinarian if they can recommend anyone in your new area. Research pet friendly businesses, local dog parks, and local shelters (in case of an unfortunate escape).

Know the rules. Before you go, research city and state requirements. Some require certain vaccinations, microchips, certificates of health, and may have licensing requirements.

Travel prepared. When traveling by vehicle, have proper and safe restraints, crates, and cargo/divider nets in place. Map out an ideal route and highlight rest stops.

When flying, contact airlines early. Ask about their policies and advance booking requirements. The USDA requires airlines to follow guidelines in addition to enforcing their own rules. These regulations cover everything from health and vaccination records to feeding times and instructions, to weather embargoes to types of crates allowed. Visit Bring Fido or the USDA for more information.

Give pets time to acclimate. Pets may need some time to get used to their new digs. Let them sniff around and prowl through rooms. Escort them to keep an eye out for territorial or anxious marking. As in your former residence, set up a closed-door room with their familiar items until they grow accustomed to the new space. Potty train dogs for their new environment right away to avoid confusion and accidents.

Moving is one of the most stressful life events. It’s difficult to avoid stress when moving, but it’s easy to reduce that stress. A bit of preparation and research, as well as keeping pets comfortable and secure can make the process as smooth as possible.


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