Moving is already a big job, but moving a long distance can make it seem huge. If you own a pet on top of that, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. However, there are ways to make it as seamless as possible for you and your adorable fur babies.
Why is it important to prepare your pet and yourself for the move?
Once you decide to move, it’s going to be on your mind constantly. You might have your stuff packed up and boxes scattered everywhere, so it’s obvious to everyone that you’re about to move. Keep in mind that your pet has no idea the move is coming.
They’ll be stressed by a sudden change, so minimizing other changes in their day-to-day lives is a good idea. Continue your morning walks, don’t change any diets, and you’ll keep your pet’s stress level to a minimum.
Don’t forget to keep yours to a minimum as well; your pet relies on you to keep a level head.
Before moving with Pet
Aside from sticking to a daily routine with your pets, you should do several things before the move to ensure it will go as smoothly as possible. If your pet isn’t used to going on long drives, familiarize them with the feeling in advance.
- Visit the vet – If your pet experiences motion sickness or anxiety when taking a car ride, visit the vet before the move. You have options like nutritional substances that have a calming effect or even pheromone collars and sprays.
- If your pet struggles to an extreme degree, your vet may even prescribe a sedative. They may also recommend a parasite preventative as a precaution.
- Pack your dog’s essentials – Your pup is going to be confused at the sudden long change. Ensure they have something in their crate that smells like home to reduce anxiety, along with some of their favorite toys.
- They may not use them, but having the option will be a source of comfort. It’s recommended you pack seven additional days’ worth of food on top of what you should need, just in case.
- Check vaccination requirements – Not only is it a great idea to ensure you have your pet’s vaccination records handy, but certain states have specific vaccine requirements.
- California, for example, requires a vaccine against rabies for your dog before you relocate. A quick Google search on the state you’re moving to should inform you, but your vet can also give you this information.
- Check local pet laws – Beyond state vaccination requirements, you’re also required by law to have a health certification when moving any pet from one state to another. You can obtain this from your vet, along with the needed vaccination records.
- Be sure to do a Google search to find out the local pet laws where you’re moving, so you’re prepared.
Tips depending on transport
Some people are surprised to hear it, but movers will not assist you when it comes to pets. They aren’t equipped to handle our four-legged loved ones and won’t take on the risk. You’re in charge of transporting your pet. You can hire a pet relocation service, but these services don’t come cheap.
- Moving truck – If you’re driving a moving truck, you’ll want to take your pets in the cab of the truck, not the back.
- This is for the same reason movers won’t do it: there’s no air in the back. Not only that, the back of the truck can heat up to unsafe levels for animals, and the danger of being hurt by loose furniture isn’t worth the risk.
- Airplane – Airplanes are easier for small animals, who can be kept in a crate that fits under a seat.
- Larger animals may have to be kept in the cargo hold, but ensure they have access to blankets. Try to fly direct to minimize travel time. Flying is not healthy for flat-faced dogs or any brachycephalic breeds with respiratory issues.
- Car – Be sure to buckle up your pet’s crate when traveling. You can get dog harnesses or crash-tested carriers for your pet should a collision happen when on the road.
- Don’t forget to bring something with the scent of home. Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle, even for a few seconds. The car can get extremely hot.
Keeping your pet safe while moving, depending on the species
Not all advice applies across the board to all pets. A lot of this advice is geared toward dogs and can also be applied to cats, but those aren’t our only pets.
For birds, monitoring them and keeping their cages in the back seat in case of an airbag deployment is important. Here’s some more species-specific advice for our animal pals:
- Cats – Cat-owners probably know this, but cats don’t exactly follow commands very well. They’re most likely to hang out in their carrier, so you’ll want to ensure they’re comfortable.
- Experts recommend feeding the cat in the carrier that day before you begin the move. Bring the cat’s litter, litter pan, and scooper for when they go potty. You can purchase pheromones that mimic what a mother cat produces for her kittens to soothe them.
- Dogs – The best thing you can do for a dog is to desensitize them to its travel crate in advance. Also, desensitize them to the other common objects that indicate a move, such as boxes or dollies.
- You can do this by giving your pup treats when near these objects. Giving your pup regular exercise while on the road will help, as well as mentally stimulating toys, such as a treat ball.
- Fish – For fish, scoop them and their aquarium water into a five-gallon container. Some vets may recommend specific supplements or even sedation, which will conserve the oxygen your fish uses and keep your fish stress-free.
- Try to keep your fish’s environment dark and cool when possible. A fish out of its water is vulnerable, so your aquarium should be the last thing you pack before you leave and the first thing you unpack before you arrive.
Reptile – Reptiles are pretty cool when it comes to moving unless you’re traveling by air. This should only be done if it is absolutely necessary. Air travel is pretty stressful on our reptile friends, and airlines tend to only allow them as cargo.
You’ll need a carrier approved by the airline for your specific pet. A pet carrier is usually sufficient for iguanas or large snakes, but be sure to double-check.
Moving can be pretty difficult for a pet, but you can do many things to make it easier on them. Keep in mind that your fur baby won’t have any idea what is going on and will be stressed.
By preparing them as best you can beforehand and providing them comforts to soothe anxiety, you’ll give yourself the best odds for a smooth move.
Due diligence when it comes to state requirements, vaccine requirements, and air travel restrictions will save you a lot of surprises. Once you get where you are going and your pet is happy and thriving again, all the work will be worth it.