Moving to a new home can be a very stressful time for our four-legged family members. Here are some great tips to minimize stress before the move, during the transition, and when arriving at your new home.
Get the 411: If moving to a foreign country (or even Hawaii), be aware of quarantine or travel requirements that may take additional planning. If moving within the US, familiarize yourself with local pet regulations, ordinances, and zoning laws. Many cities have specific laws regarding leashes, pet licensing, breed restrictions, and allowable number of pets per household. In fact, some cities will even issue a citation for walking your dog on a public beach. For exotic pets (birds, reptiles, monkeys) or agricultural species (pigs, chickens, and goats), special permitting or zoning laws may apply. If you will be residing within an apartment community or condo, you should double check to ensure your pets are permitted. This should also be plainly stipulated within your rental agreement or within the homeowner’s association rules.
Good to go: Prior to moving, plan a visit with your pet’s veterinarian to ensure your pet is up-to-date on important vaccinations and is healthy enough for travel. Remember to obtain sufficient medication and prescription diet to last at least two weeks (until you are able to establish a relationship with a veterinarian in your new area). Ask your current veterinarian to refer you to a veterinarian in your new area or conduct your own research using the AVMA or American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) websites. If you are traveling across state lines or internationally, you will need a corresponding certificate of veterinary inspection to be filled out by an accredited veterinarian. In addition, some airlines require an acclimation certificate for air travel that must also be signed by an accredited veterinarian. Request a copy of your pet’s medical records to share with your new veterinarian. Consider having your pet microchipped as a quick and minimally invasive way to locate your pet if he or she should ever become lost. If your pet is already microchipped, remember to update your new information with the microchip company.
Carry me home: Leave yourself enough time to find a suitable pet carrier with sufficient ventilation. Your pet should have enough room to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Get your pet accustomed to the carrier before you travel by using the carrier as a pet bed for several days to weeks. Try to increase comfort and security by placing your pet’s favorite blanket, toy, and/or treat within the carrier. If your pet is prone to motion sickness, consider trying to slowly acclimate him or her by taking short car trips well in advance of your move. Progressively increase the duration of the car trips and monitor for improvement. Also, ask your veterinarian about prescription medications that work well to alleviate motion sickness in pets.
Pack it up: Shortly before your move, your pet may become anxious while witnessing the packing and moving of household items. Consider a doggy day care, boarding facility, or have your pet visit a well-known friend during times of increased activity. Alternatively, assign a well-ventilated room of your home as the “pet room” to provide a sanctuary away from the chaos. Place a “do not disturb” sign on the door to avoid people unnecessarily entering the room. Keep in mind that cats may show a tendency to run away or hide in boxes when stressed, so a “pet room” will help to keep tabs on your tiny tiger. Avoid straying from your usual routine during the moving process. Extra attention and special treats can serve as good short-term distractions while extra walks/increased exercise are a great outlet for excess nervous energy. Pheromone-based diffusers and sprays are also available to help calm dogs and cats during stressful times. If you are concerned about your pet’s level of anxiety, speak to your veterinarian about medications available to help control your pet’s anxiety throughout the moving process.
Leave it out: Remember to leave out the following pet-related items that are needed for travel:
Prescribed medications (ensure you have adequate supply for the entire duration of your trip plus an additional 4 days)
-Food and water (ensure you have adequate supply for the entire duration of your trip plus an additional 4 days)
-Travel carrier or crate
-Pet bed with favorite blanket
-Several favorite toys
-Collar with leash or harness; ensure your pet is wearing an updated information tag including your pet’s name, new phone number, and new address
-Litter pan/cat litter
-Health certificate (interstate or international) +/- acclimation certificate for air travel
-Photo of your pet (in case your pet should become lost)
-Plastic poop bags
-Roll of paper towels
-Current veterinarian’s phone number
Other items to consider:
Medical records (especially if your pet has a current medical condition)
Pet first aid kit
Pet seat belt and/or vehicle barrier
Dr. Anna Ligman is a small animal veterinarian and owner of The Veterinary Center at Hunter’s Crossing in Gainesville, FL. Dr. Ligman is very passionate about preventative medicine and focuses on strong client education to enhance pets’ quality – and quantity – of life.