As an animal-loving family, we are among the 85 million U.S. households who have at least one pet.

While the number of pet owners consistently has grown over the years, it has seen a significant uptick this year, as the social isolation of Covid-19 has driven people to seek sources of companionship and purpose as we battle the virus together apart. Dogs, particularly, have become even more popular, offering opportunities to exercise and buoying spirits with unconditional love.

While it’s been heartening to see shelters and rescue operations empty their cages and facilities, we hope the new owners realize that pets bring a great deal of responsibility, as well. And that includes when relocating.

Moving to a new home can impact each family member differently, and it can be a very strange time for your pets. A lot of things are happening at once. Nothing is where it was. Less attention is being paid. Stress is in the air. They also can become another thing to worry about or a nuisance under foot when you need it least.

In this blog, we offer a few tips and some things to consider when you’re moving with dogs (with a nod to cats). We hope they make the transition easier – and calmer – for everyone involved.

A silver lining in the pandemic may be that even more people are seeing the benefits of pet ownership – to themselves and animals needing forever homes. At the very least, it’s a cheerful thought in an otherwise troubling time.

Moving with Pets

  1. Play It Safe. For everyone’s safety, we suggest keeping dogs and cats out of the way of movers. Ideally, far away, as in a kennel or at a friend or relative’s home. This may seem obvious, but you can get so used to having a pet underfoot, you can forget others aren’t. This is especially true for dogs and cats that don’t react to, or interact well with, strangers. Crating or isolating the dog in a room is not recommended, according to the experts at Purina, as all the activity going on elsewhere could lead to stress-related behaviors.
  2. Get Them Ready. The ASPA recommends that owners get their pets prepared for auto transport by gradually acclimating them to their crates. This includes carrying the crated animal around the house for a little while or taking them for a short drive. How familiar your pet is with being in crates or vehicles will determine how far ahead you may want to start getting them ready.
  3. Keep it Familiar. Keep all their essentials with you for easy set up and use. From familiar food to favorite toys, sameness can ease the stress. Also try to keep schedules and routines as close to the same as possible. Once you’ve moved, remember this is new territory for them, as well, and having the same bed, blanket, crate or bowl around can help in the adjustment. That said, things that should change with the new location are tags and microchips to update contact information and transfer of documentation to the new veterinarian.
  4. Make a Flight Plan. Moving so far that your dog will have to fly? If they’re a novice, advises Walter Woolf, a veterinarian and owner of Air Animal Pet Movers, prepare them for the plane ride by taking them through a car wash. This will simulate the sounds and motion of flight, Woolf says, and you can set the stage by speaking calmly to your pet while the water and brushes swish around your car. On the day of the flight, experts recommend feeding your pet no less than five hours before departure and that you give them a drink of water about two hours before take-off.
  5. Get Grounded. Moving close by? Take your dog for walks in the new neighborhood and let them “nose” around. Once you’ve checked your new home carefully for potential hazards, you also could take your dog or cat along with you when you make quick post-closing/pre-move-in drop-ins. In any case, they shouldn’t make their first appearance until all danger zones have been cleared.

All that said, only you know the nuances of your pet or pets, knowledge learned through days, weeks, months, years and sometimes decades of life together. Thus, the best advise we can give is for you to start putting that knowledge to use early in the process, giving serious thought to what can be a difficult period for your beloved companions and how you can make it easier for them.

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