Relocation Tips: Moving Your Pet

Pets, no matter how aware we think they are, can’t quite comprehend why they’re being removed from their familiar surroundings and put into a brand new situation. It's up to you to make the experience less upsetting. When we say pets, most people think of dogs and cats. Those are the most popular animals that people keep as pets, and there are more rules regarding them than there are for other animals. This guide will touch on other types of pets, like birds, fish, reptiles, and rodents (sorry hamsters, that’s what you are), but the bulk of the information to follow will be about dogs and cats.

Home Finding

Finding a home in your new location is a big undertaking There are a lot of factors to consider, and while some are more important than whether or not your pet is going to like it, you need to take it into consideration.

If you’re going to rent, make absolutely certain that the apartment, condo, house, or whatever form of housing you choose allows pets, and more specifically, allows the type of pet that you have. There’s often a monthly pet-fee in addition to rent, so be certain to inquire about that.

Pre-Arrival Research

  • Update Your Pet's Tags: If your pet wears a collar, you should already have tags with their information on them, and this should absolutely include your address. A lot of people are slow to update these tags with their new address after moving (or they forget altogether). A lot of pets are good at finding their own way home, but if they’re in a new area they might not know where home is. Get these tags updated as soon as possible.
  • Find a New Vet: Pick a veterinarian in your new location as soon as you can, it’s definitely the kind of thing you’d rather have and not need than need and not have. Every city should have a decent number of options. If you have neighbors with pets, ask them if they have a recommendation.
  • Daycare: A lot of people with full time jobs like to drop their pet off at a “daycare” facility so the pet is taken care of while they’re at work. If that’s something you’re planning to do, try to get a head start on it. If you’re going to have to drop your pet off at their location each morning, try to pick something that won’t add too much distance to your commute. Remember to make sure you’re working with somebody that you’re comfortable with, your pet is going to be spending a lot of time with these people.

Transporting Your Pet

  • Pet Shipping Services: If traveling with your pet is too much work for you to handle, you can hire a pet travel agent to gather all of the necessary documents and ship your pet to your new location. A pet shipping company will figure out all of the rules and regulations of the place where your pet will be going so that your pet’s trip will be as smooth and short as possible. This is a great option if you feel like you’re going to have your hands full on move day, and you won’t be able to give your pet the attention that it deserves.
  • Moving with Your Pet: Most people prefer to take care of their pets personally when they move. The more planning you can do in advance, however, the better your pet’s move is going to be. How does your pet handle car trips? A lot of dogs get motion sickness or anxiety while traveling, which although relatively harmless to your pet, can be a little unpleasant. Some tips for preventing this are:
    • Consider giving your pet a vet-approved sedative
    • Limit your pet’s food intake before travel
    • Roll down the car’s windows an inch or two while traveling
    • Make sure your pet is facing forward—or at least not looking out the side windows. There are special seat belts for pets that can help with this. Kennels are the more common option, though they are considered less helpful
  • Flying: Some destinations are far enough away that it makes more sense to travel by plane, which is a bit more challenging to do with pets. If you’re going to fly to your new home and you’d prefer to bring your pet with you, there are some things you need to consider. Inquire with your airline about everything you’ll need to do to prepare for air-travel with your pet. 

    • You’ll probably need to get a note from your vet saying that your pet is up to date on vaccinations, and healthy enough to fly. These can take up to 30 days to acquire. Get this done as early as possible, and check with your airline to see what other logistics might be required.
    • Many airlines only allow dogs and cats onboard.
    • Smaller animals can sometimes travel with their owners, while larger animals will likely have to travel in the plane’s cargo area. There are also breed-restrictions that vary between airlines.
    • Some airlines are particular about the carrier or kennel that your pet will be transported in. Make sure you have the correct one.

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Moving Day

Part of your move-day planning should be about what your pet will do while you’re moving out of your old home and into your new one. If possible, it’s a good idea to get a friend or family member to watch your pet while you’re moving your belongings and furniture. This is often much easier while moving out of your old home, as you may not know anyone yet in your new location.

If you have kids—and they’re old and responsible enough—you can assign one of them to “pet duty”. Not only will this help with your pet, but it will give your kids something to do during the move. Make sure your pets are eating when they should be, being walked, and aren’t getting in the way of movers.

Settling In

Once you’re ready to bring your pet into your new home, it may take a while for them to get used to their new surroundings. It’s a good idea to keep something familiar on hand, like bedding or furniture. This can be comforting to your pet. Keep a regular schedule in the early days after your move, and pay special attention to walks and bathroom breaks for dogs.

No matter what type of pet you’re moving with, planning is crucial. Take everything in this guide into consideration and you’ll be taking steps towards making moving less stressful for your pet, and therefore less stressful for you.

Human Resources Today