Moving can be stressful for some people, but for your pet, moving can be a traumatic ordeal! In normal situations, your animals can become stressed by such things as sudden noises, unexpected guests or new environments. So, it's safe to reason that moving is not an easy task for pets and it doesn't come with a prescribed remedy, so I hope these few following tips will make moving a bit easier on you and your beloved animal companions.
Similar but Different
Cats and dogs experience the moving of their household in similar fashions, although their reactions might be quite different. One reason is that dogs are socialized whereas cats are not. Cats are more focused on their environment and dogs are less focused, so they'll adapt better. Felines need consistency and any changes to their environment may cause stress. Your cat's reaction could change from being independent to that of clinginess and affectionate, while the outgoing cat may become temporarily reclusive. When in this state, it is important to remember, when you introduce your cat to a carrier for the first time, you should praise your cat upon entering the carrier. Beforehand, you should place a blanket and a few toys inside the carrier so
your cat feels less stressed.
Dogs are a little easier to travel with if they're crate trained, but if that crate means going to the vet you should try some positive reinforcement before your move. A ride to the park, for instance can install some positive aspects into the car ride to make the drive less stressful.
Use Your Own Ride
Transport your pets in your own vehicle. Small dogs and cats can be placed in a carrier in your back seat and bigger dogs can be moved in a kennel. You may be able to keep your animals calm by throwing a blanket over their carrier during the ride but most pet owners won't have trouble getting their pet into the car. Dogs especially love rides, as long as you don't mention the dreaded names -- "Doctor" or "Vet."
The Pet Survival Kit
Toys and treats mean a lot to your cat and dog. So why not pack them into an easy and accessible "de-stressing kit?" Don't forget to pack the cat or dog food, the kitty litter and grooming tools to keep your pet comfortable and at ease during the move and all the way through the unpacking.
The Quiet Room
Keeping your pet in a quiet area during the move will reduce stress on your pet. It's best to board your pet for a day or two or keep them with a friend until the move is over. If these choices aren't possible, try locating a quiet, empty room like a bedroom on a different floor or anywhere the activity is low. If you crate your pet, there should be no problem placing them somewhere quiet and away from the action - pets feel safe and secure inside their crate. When everything has been removed from your house and packed into the car or moving truck, then you should retrieve your animal and place him in your vehicle. And don't forget the seat belts. Most crates and baskets made for cats and dogs can be seat belted with attachable harnesses.
Moving Out of The Area
If you're moving out of the area make sure you notify your veterinarian. Ask them for your pet's medical records and medications and also ask for advice, and recommendations for a new vet in your new neighborhood. Keep your pet's health certificate available when traveling out of state in the event you are pulled over and inspected by an authority. (You could be fined for not having one!)
The More Than a Day Move
Sometimes moving takes more than a day. If you have to stop somewhere on the road, keep in mind that many pet friendly hotels do exist (please refer to my article The Best Pet Friendly Hotels in the US.) Many realty companies realize pets must be moved too, so they may be able to steer you to businesses or organizations you can hire or consult to aid you in moving your pets (horses especially.)
After the move is over, microchips and tag information should be updated ASAP with new address and phone numbers!
Moving Fish, Guinea Pigs and Birds
The stresses on fish are enormous and sometimes even fatal. These delicately finned friends should be transported short distances in plastic bags filled with their old tank water. If you're traveling extremely long distances, it's best to give your fish a brand new home with a friend. You can empty the tank and buy new fish after you've been settled. If you have very expensive fish, you may consider hiring a professional animal moving company. Take note, however, this could be expensive, but at least in the end you'll still have your expensive fish!
Guinea Pigs also are known for not taking changes well. They hate being jostled around, so make certain they're transported in comfort and warmth in a small carrier.
Birds, still another jittery pet, dislike change. So keep an eye on them on moving day and don't remove them from their cage even if they have never flown off your shoulder! If your bird balks at the idea of being caged, do it anyway (unless you own a tethered, trained hawk!)
The Exotic Move
What about moving your favorite pet tarantula, iguana, snake or other exotic pet? Moving exotics can be tricky and should be thoroughly researched because of special handling.
Temperature fluctuations are a prime concern when moving reptiles and other exotics and several airlines will simply refuse carrying cold blooded reptiles or arachnids on their passenger list. When you locate an airline willing to transport your pet, it's best to move in the warmer months in order to eliminate climatic concerns.
Air Flight For Pets
Small pets are usually allowed to travel with you on most airlines in the passenger cabin but the number of animals allowed on one flight could be limited. The ASLCA usually advises against putting pets on planes unless they can travel with you in the passenger cabin. If the cargo hold is a must, try at least to get a direct flight.
Be aware that a number of foreign countries (including Hawaii) require an animal to be quarantined for up to six months after entry. Professional moving companies may be helpful in this instance because they have facilities licensed to handle the quarantine and check for quarantine regulations. Embassies can be of assistance also, providing information on current vaccinations and health papers. Moreover, some countries have prohibited certain breeds from being imported because they are "vicious breeds," regardless of a problem-free record or all the proper paperwork. So the stress of moving to a different county is magnified as you try maneuvering through their own pet policies. But the bottom line is all your pet wants to know is that they are part of the family and that they are going with you! Sadly, many won't be going because of apartment living restrictions or foreign country regulations but most pet owners will, at all costs, refuse to leave their beloved pets behind!
By Tom Matteo
About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He specializes in hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and occasionally writes about such topics as animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife Tina and his beloved cockapoo, Angel.