A Guide to Smooth, Low-Stress Pet Relocation

So, you scored a new job and you’re excited to relocate—but that means Buddy, Bella, Nemo or Thumper will be relocating, too. While it may seem daunting, pet relocation is very doable…with a little thought and planning.   

Yes, moving can be stressful for pets. The upheaval. The travel. The new, unfamiliar place. That’s why the goal of any pet relocation plan should be to keep critters safe, healthy and as chill as possible—before, during and after the move. 

Before the Move: Pet Relocation Planning 

Before you make any housing decisions, learn about the pet laws and restrictions in your new area. Your relocation specialist may be able to help. For example, some cities have breed bans or restrictions in place. And some landlords limit what size and type of pets they allow.

It’s helpful to contact your veterinarian before your move to request copies of your pet’s medical records and refill any prescriptions. Because vaccine requirements vary from region to region, you might choose to address this proactively, too.  

Also, ask your vet if he/she can recommend a colleague in your new location. After all, many veterinarians relocate after graduation; the chance that yours may know someone is greater than you might think.

Most significantly, if you’re worried about the stress of the move on your pet, discuss that with your vet. Would sedatives help, or create more problems? What about aids like compression vests, pheromone collars and/or CBD oil? Together, you can come up with a plan. 

On the subject of stress: when movers are in the house, make sure your pet is securely behind closed doors. Or better yet, at day care or Grandma’s house. Between the noise, strangers and randomly open doors, there’s a heightened risk that a panicked pet may flee.  

This is also a good time to double check your pet’s I.D. tag and microchip (although you’ll be updating them after your move). In other words, be proactive!  

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Deciding How to Transport Your Pet 

Many pet owners elect to drive to their new location, specifically so they can escort their pets—and often, it’s the best solution. However, unless you have an adventure-loving pup, your pet may still be anxious. 

To combat that—and keep them safe—confine smaller animals to their carriers throughout the trip, securing the carriers so they don’t bounce around. Make a habit of grabbing your dog’s leash before you open the car door. It may sound excessive, but dogs and cats are at higher risk of bolting during transport.

What about flying with your pet? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, some 2,000,000 animals travel by air every year. However, a handful of them die or are injured on airplanes, mostly when placed in cargo holds. For this reason, many experts recommend against this practice. If considering this option, do your research first.  

Every airline has its own rules about what pets can ride in the cabin and how. Before you make reservations, get all the facts—and have a Plan B, just in case.  

In addition, there are professional pet transporters out there, including airlines specifically for pets. Obviously, you’d want to screen them carefully. These services are expensive and may not be covered under your relocation benefits—but it is another possibility. 

Finally, a word about exotic pets. Stress can be especially hazardous to small mammals, fish and other exotics. Talk to your vet or go-to expert for help planning their pet relocation. They may be small, but they need the same level of care and attention as their larger counterparts. 

Helping Pets Adjust to Your New Digs

Once you arrive at your new home, don’t be alarmed if your pets are out of sorts for a while. Give them time to adjust to their new environment. Consider limiting cats and small pets to a single room or area—surrounded by all their familiar belongings—to help them decompress. In the meantime, showering them with love and attention is good for them and good for you, too.  

Similarly, even if your new yard is fenced, you may want to accompany your dog outside until she knows that this is home. Of course, one of the joys of relocating will be exploring your new neighborhood together and making new friends! 

Like everything else, pet relocation takes a little planning. One size does not fit all. Use your relocation specialist as a resource—and before you know it, you’ll all be happily settled in your new home-sweet-home. 

Human Resources Today