Take the ‘ruff’ out of moving: Tips for transitioning your pets

Guest blog by Amy Burkert

Moving with petsPacking up your whole life and relocating to a new city – or even a new country – is exciting and stressful. There are myriad unknowns, and when your family includes pets, you’re likely to experience additional challenges and questions. To alleviate some of the stress, begin preparing well in advance of your move. These tips will help you and your pets on the big day:

Secure your pet. If you are able, give one person in your family responsibility for your pet. Leading up to the move, this person should try to spend extra time with your pet to help them feel more secure as you’re packing and preparing to leave.

Update identification tags. Update your pet’s identification tags before your move. Include your mobile phone number so you can be contacted while you’re traveling. Also consider having a microchip implanted in your pet to assist them in getting back to you if they become lost either during the move or while they’re becoming acclimated to your new home.

Research laws. Do some research on the local laws where you’ll be living, especially if you have a dog classified as a restricted breed. Communities across the country have instituted laws banning or restricting more than 100 different breeds of dogs. It’s important to contact the local government offices where you’re moving to ensure compliance with their laws and for information on securing licenses for your pets.

Plan your trip. Driving is the least expensive way of moving your pet. And it can be the most fun! What’s better than a road trip, after all? Using a pet-friendly road trip planner will allow you to map your route and find restaurants, dog parks, and hotels along the way. If you need to make hotel reservations, confirm the location’s pet policy which will accommodate your entire family.

Stay on schedule. Maintain your pet’s feeding and exercise schedule as much as possible to help reduce any anxiety they may feel about moving. Set up a reminder in your phone to help you track feedings and exercise.

Pack a go-bag. Include all your pets’ most important items in one bag so they are easily accessible while on the road. Here is a list to get you started:

1. Food and treats; for canned food don’t forget the can opener!
2. Drinking water: If your pet’s stomach is easily upset, it pays to take some drinking water to give your pet time to adjust.
3. Food and water bowls: Portable bowls pack easily.
4. Your vet’s telephone number and the telephone number for the National Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
5. Photos of your pet: In case your pet gets separated from you, having a current photo allows you to create posters quickly and can be used to prove the pet belongs to you.
6. A roll of paper towels for muddy paws and other messes.
7. An old towel in the event inclement weather becomes a factor.
8. Your pet’s bed and a few toys: To make them more comfortable if you spend the night in unfamiliar locations, these items will provide some comfort.
9. All of their medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.
10. Plastic bags to pick up after them along the way.
11. First aid kit.

Getting Settled In

When you arrive in your new home, place your pet’s bed or crate and a few of their favorite toys in a quiet spot away from the unpacking activities. This gives them a refuge in which they can relax and settle. Once you’ve caught your breath, ask local friends to recommend a veterinarian, then set up an appointment to introduce yourself and your pet. Providing them with a copy of your pet’s medical records will save time in case your pet should require emergency treatment.

Dogs and cats go through a similar adjustment period as people do when moving to a new home. Until they become familiar with their new house and neighborhood, take care that they don’t get startled and try to escape. Help them understand this is “home” by spending extra time with them, encourage them to explore new rooms by placing toys and treats inside, and use blankets, beds, and toys with their scent on them for the first few weeks. Develop a new routine by feeding them at the same time and in the same place each day. Within a few weeks they should have made the adjustment and be content in their new environment.

About the Author: A true pet travel expert, Amy Burkert, runs the award-winning pet travel website, GoPetFriendly.com, which makes it easy to plan a trip with your entire family. Her blog, Take Paws, is an encyclopedia of pet travel tips, pet friendly destination guides, and stories of the adventures she and her husband share as they travel full-time in their Winnebago with their dogs, Ty and Buster.

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