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.

Moving with pets: Transport best practices

Guest blog written by Alana Stevenson

Long-distance, and even local, moves can mean longer car rides than usual for your pets. With a little planning, you and your pets will be road-ready, making that first introduction to their new surroundings a positive and smooth experience.

Alana• If they are not already, get your animals micro chipped, and ensure you update the chip with your new address and any changing phone numbers.

• Consider getting pet tracking collars, especially if you are taking a longer road trip which involves overnight stays. For larger pets, consider GPS collars such as The Pet Tracker, and for smaller animals, like cats or small dogs, collars such as the Cat Locator (www.TheCatLocator.com) are a good choice.

• Ensure your pets’ collars have tags and that all contact information is up-to-date.

• Examine your car space for the trip. The more room you have in the car for yourself and your animals, the less stress you will experience. The more space your animals have, the more comfortable they will generally feel. If you’re able, invest in a rooftop cargo box for your car. You can pack as much as you can in the cargo box and leave the necessary essentials inside the car, freeing up space.

• If your animals are traveling in the wagon area, the flooring is not cushioned or padded, so they will feel every bump, vibration, and pothole. Buy foam padding (often available at large craft stores) to line the surface area. You can then cover the foam padding with a large sheet or blanket, making the car ride much more comfortable.

• For cats, large, soft dog crates can be great for travel. They are also foldable. You can use smaller soft crates for transporting your pets to the hotel room and larger soft crates in the car or SUV where animals can nestle for longer trips. Many dogs and cats prefer soft crates over hard wire crates or plastic cabin crates. (Many standard cat carriers are too small for most cats).

• Afraid of pet accidents in the carrier or crate? Line the bottom of carriers and crates with unscented potty pads or urinary incontinence pads made for adults. These are large, square or rectangular in shape and include a plastic lining on one side and absorbent cotton material on the other.

• Think of potty options for your pets. Cats may need to get out of the carrier to use litter boxes, especially for longer journeys. If this is the case, keep the doors of the car closed at all times when your cats are out of the carrier. Always put your cats back into carriers before opening car doors.

• Another option for cats is to place them in large crates with a litter box on one side and cat bed or comfy dome style bed on the other. It’s not a fun way to travel, but it does give your cats an option to use the litter box.

• Keep your dog on a leash when getting out of the car. The motion of the car may cause car sickness, and animals may also have to potty more frequently.

• Keep food and perishables, including any pet medications, in the car. Have a cooler so wet and canned food or any pet medications do not overheat.

• Bring cleaning products – paper towels, enzyme cleaner, small trash bags, pet wipes or unscented baby wipes, and extra towels or baby blankets to clean up any accidents or messes during the trip.

• Driving solo and need to make a pit stop? Park directly in front of the building and turn on your hazards. Ultimately it’s best to not leave your animals alone in the car whenever possible.

• If you are driving with a partner, take fuel, restroom and meal breaks in tandem so one person is always assigned to remain with the animals. If you must leave the animals, park the car so you are able to keep it in view at all times. When I travel with animals, I simply eat in the car.

• Get AAA. AAA has an online map that designates locations of hotels, as well as hotels and lodging that are pet-friendly. Call ahead to reserve hotel rooms and check on pet policies. LaQuinta Inns are all pet friendly.

• For cats, you might want to spray Feliway in the car before travel. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that may have a slight calming effect for some cats.

• For dogs, have good bones, clean chewies or snacks so they can stay busy for parts of the car ride. Cats and other animals can also be given their favorite snacks and treats to make their car ride more pleasurable.

Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2013

Alana Stevenson is an Animal Behavior Specialist, Trainer and Animal Massage Therapist. She is the author of The Right Way the First Time and Training Your Dog the Humane Way, and the Feline Behaviorist for Life with Cats. She has been professionally resolving dog and cat behavioral problems for over ten years. She can be contacted through her website AlanaStevenson.com.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

Tips for Moving with Pets

Written by Claire Schneider

Moving with petsMoving is a big life event for the whole family, even for our beloved four-legged friends. When changes are made to their living environment, pets can become uncomfortable and stressed. They may seem anxious and nervous during the packing stages of moving because they don’t know what is happening. They likely have developed separation anxiety from past vacations and other stays away from their owners. Many animals, especially dogs, are known to be emotional and to have a natural fear of abandonment.

Premove prep

Because of the attachment to their owners, it is always prudent to pay special attention to pets early in the process. If possible, give them comfort by taking them to visit the new home before the actual move to familiarize them with their new surroundings.

Prior to moving day, pet owners who make a little extra effort on their furry friend’s behalf will be rewarded with a less anxious animal. Just being aware of your pet’s feelings, just as you would your child’s, will give him a sense of peace amid the managed chaos the day is sure to present. Giving pets as much affection as possible will also reassure them they are still being cared for.

“Moving is very stressful for a family,” said ASPCA President Larry Hawk, D.V.M. “That stress is also experienced by the pets. They want to know that they’re part of the family and that they’ll be going, too.”

Moving can be especially stressful for cats since they are more focused on their surroundings and don’t adapt easily to change. Disruption to their environment can cause them anxiety which may lead to behavior changes. The best thing you can do is to plan a moving strategy which creates the least amount of noticeable change.

If your animals are anything like mine, they tend to get nervous at the first sign of packing, even if it is just an overnight bag for a quick trip away. To reduce their stress, spread out your packing over several weeks and start packing rooms pets usually stay out of to keep packed boxes and belongings out of sight.

A few weeks before moving day, plan a visit to the vet. This is an ideal opportunity for a quick check-up and to ensure records are up-to-date; I recommend asking for a copy of their veterinary records. If necessary, you may also ask if they have any recommendations for veterinary clinics in your new town; you can research online reviews to select your new provider.

Moving day

Moving with petsIf you hired movers, let your pet get to know them before they start moving your items. Animals are very territorial and may be hesitant to welcome strangers into their home. Give the movers some time to introduce themselves to your pet by slowly petting them. Having treats handy for the movers to dole out is a surefire way to get fast acquainted with any cat or dog.

Has a family member been assigned to caring for the family pet on moving day? This could be one of your children, a friend, or family member. To ensure their safety, put animals in a blocked off area (using a baby gate or boxes) so they become a spectator of the action yet safely out of the fray. Putting them in an isolated room could cause them further stress since they know something is happening yet can’t see it. Make sure they have food, water and, of course, their favorite toys to keep them occupied.

When packing up the car, leave plenty of room for your animals. By giving them ample space, they will be more comfortable and relaxed during the drive to their new home.

Hitting a high note in the new home

Immediately introduce your pet to the new surroundings, allowing them to explore each room.  Don’t rush them. Bring in their food and water dishes, along with their toys, to make them more contented. To help with the adjustment, place familiar items in locations similar to the old house—at least for a period of time. Also, follow their current routines; they have had enough changes already.

Invest a little time in planning ahead for your furry and four-legged friends, and the move will be less stressful for your whole family.

Here are some helpful tips for moving with specific animals:

Cats:

• Before and after the move, surround your cat with familiar objects ― feeding and water bowls, toys, blanket, or bed. If you are using a crate, leave it in a place with which they can become familiar.

• Since cats are very sensitive to their environment, gradually introduce them to their surroundings by restricting them to one or two rooms at the onset.

Dogs:

• Like cats, dogs should be slowly introduced to their surroundings, then leashed outside until comfortable with the area.

• If you are unable to stay home the first few days following a move, consider arranging a friend or pet sitter to visit a couple of hours a day to ease your dog’s anxiety and to burn some healthy energy.

Fish:

• Traveling is the most difficult part of the moving process for fish. Place fish in bags with a mix of new water and clean water directly from their aquarium. The less the fish are crowded the better. Put rubber bands around the tops of bags and place the bags inside a dark, insulated cooler.

• Let the filter run for a few hours before returning your fish to their tank, and try to limit their time away from their normal habitat to less than 48 hours.

Birds:

• Use appropriate-sized carriers for birds and cover the bottom with litter. Remember to secure carrier doors with a clip from the outside. Keep the birds cool and protected from the sun at all times.

• Transport a supply of food and water from the previous house, then gradually switch from old to new supplies.

Small pets:

• Small pets such as gerbils, guinea pigs, and hamsters are more sensitive to drastic temperature changes. Take care to protect them from cold drafts or direct sunlight.

• These animals can travel in the cage they normally live in, but make sure it is well sealed so they cannot escape.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.