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Moving With Pets: Tips for a Safe, Trauma-free Transition to Your New Home

Moving petsMoving into a new home can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. If you are moving with a pet, you can imagine the anxiety they must feel in the transition, from packing up your household belongings to transferring everything (and everyone) to unfamiliar surroundings. A move can impact your pet’s state of mind for a week or more, but there are steps you can take to make it as smooth and gentle experience for them.

According to the ASPCA, you can’t begin planning for a pet’s needs during a move too early. Begin by exploring neighborhoods under consideration; walk around, determine whether it’s a safe area for walking a dog. Look to see if there are dogs in the neighborhood that may seem aggressive, or are left unattended.  If you know that your dog is slow to warm up to other animals, make sure you can transition him in slowly to avoid tension with your new neighbors and their pets.

Bring empty boxes that you will be using to pack into your current home a few days before you start packing so that your pets can become familiar with them.

How does your pet do on a car ride? Some travel well, others, not so much.  If you will be traveling by car, whether across town or across country, the experts at recommend that you familiarize your pet with riding in the car, beginning with short trips around your neighborhood and gradually increase the drive time to make sure they’re adjusted to the car and comfortable when moving day arrives. If your pet doesn’t seem comfortable, ask your veterinarian for suggestions.

It’s especially important, if you are transporting a pet by plane to find out what the airline’s regulations are for small and large pets, and give yourself plenty of time to make sure all regulatory paperwork is in hand. When moving day arrives, keep your pets out of the chaos and confusion by placing them in a quiet room with the door shut. Place a sign on the door warning others “Do Not Disturb! Pets Inside.”

Before moving day, be sure to have collars with identification tags make sure your pets are fitted with collars and identification tags that include your name, address and phone number just in case a skittish cat or dog slips away from you. Better yet, if you haven’t already get a microchip implanted in your pets to be safe.

Keep your pet documents in a place that is safe and easily accessible. If you are moving far enough away that you will need to find a new vet near your new home, ask your current vet for a recommendation if they can offer one, or research ahead of times to select a vet that you and your pet will take to. Make sure to ask your current vet for a copy of your pet’s vaccination records and medical history. Plan ahead; rushing these steps at the last minute is never a good idea. Ask your veterinarian for any medications or special food your pet requires well in advance, especially if he or she is prone to carsickness.

Pack a bag for your pets that includes bedding, towels, familiar toys, treats, food, water, bowls, leashes, and harnesses. A travel kennel or crate is highly recommended to provide them with a sense of security during the drive. At the very least, a car seat or safety harness will keep them safe and in one place. No matter how tempting, resist the urge to drive with your pet on your lap or in the front seat with you, where they are so much more vulnerable to injuries.

For long-distance move, plan ahead by mapping out pet-friendly hotels along your route and reserve rooms ahead of time. (For a list of pet-friendly hotels, see or Pet Friendly Hotels.)

Once you arrive at your new home, it might be tempting to set your dog or cat loose in the house to acclimate and explore, but the ASPCA warns against it. Unfamiliar surroundings can overwhelm cats, dogs and even birds. Instead, begin by introducing them to one room. Make sure their favorite toys are in the room, some treats and fresh water, food bowls and a litter box if you have a cat.  Once the movers have left and the house is quiet, gradually introduce them to other rooms in the house.

If you have any additional questions about moving into a new home with your pets, talk to your professional realtor who can probably provide you with answers to your questions, or hook you up with someone who can.


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