how to move with a pet

It’s true what John Donne wrote: No man is an island. Although we’re pretty sure he was actually waxing poetic about the ways in which we each make up the overall fabric of society, we like to attribute a more basic meaning to his words, and man’s best friend is a perfect example of what we’re talking about. Dogs, cats, birds and other domesticated creatures just seem to take the edge off, even when they’re driving us nuts with their incessant barking/meowing/squawking and undying need for attention. No matter how insane they may drive us, we love them unconditionally, and for good reason: they just make life better.

So, when we’re moving from an old familiar home to a new place, our furballs, feathered friends and other beloved pets could probably use a little extra consideration to make their transition as smooth as possible. Here, we’ve rounded up some tips to keep our four-legged (and winged, and gilled) friends as happy as possible during a relocation.

Before moving day, microchip and spay/neuter your pet

It’s a fact of nature that cats and dogs in particular are curious creatures, and it’s not uncommon for them to feel the need to wander when placed in a new environment. Spaying and neutering not only reduces the pet population to a more controllable (i.e., humane) level, but also reduces the little critters’ inclination to run wild and chase down every pheromone in the new neighborhood by a staggering 90 percent. But in the unfortunate event that Fido or Fluffy does scamper off, microchipping them in advance increases their chances of making it back home by more than 200 percent. That math, to anyone who loves his or her pet, is inarguable. And even better: some animal clinics and shelters offer microchipping for free, while adding your pet to the national microchip registry is less than $20. Money well spent indeed.

Keep pet essentials on hand

While it’s tempting to pack everything — and we mean everything — into boxes while prepping for a move, it’s important to keep your pets’ most familiar elements in use. The familiar sights and scents of food bowls, beds, crates and toys are comforting while traveling and adapting to a new environment. It might feel natural to buy new stuff for your pet to go with the new house or apartment, but actually, it’s wiser to wait until they’ve adapted to their new surroundings before you go switching up their daily essentials and potentially freaking them out.

And speaking of essentials: throughout the move, it’s smart to have an envelope in your bag or dashboard containing up-to-date shot records and veterinary information. Particularly if you’re moving to a new city and taking the furbabies along for the ride, having that info on hand in case of emergency could literally be a life-saver. While the internet is a beautiful tool, it never hurts to have backup on hand, especially in a moment of crisis.

Take the edge off

Some pets just don’t deal well with change, plain and simple. For those nervous nellies in particular, vets are often willing to prescribe a light sedative for car or plane trips to get Bowser, Cupcake or Rocky to the new home safely and securely. Frankly, in this case, “better living through science” can be just the thing to get you through a move with minimal trauma for all involved. If previous experience indicates that it’s going to be a bumpy ride, at least call for a phone consult; the worst the vet can do is say no.

And whatever you do, don’t switch your pet’s food mid-move because you ran out and had to grab something new in a pinch. Stressful moments like these are the ones in which cats and dogs are more likely to have stomach issues, so keep the gravy train steady and give them the foods they’re used to, at the usual times and in the usual bowls.

Baby steps

If it’s at all possible, give your furry (or feathery) friend a chance to get used to the new place in advance. Moving in with a significant other? Bring the little monster over for a weekend or two several weeks in advance of the move. Let them get used to the smells, the sounds and the overall layout well before they’re calling the place ‘home’ and you’ll increase the likelihood of purrs and wagging tails shortly after the moving truck pulls away. And if that’s not possible, make sure those familiar items mentioned above are some of the first things you set up in the new place so that, when your pet bounds into its new surroundings for the first time, there’s already an element of home waiting there to provide comfort.

Stick to your pet’s schedule

With a new home come new habits, new daily regimens and new ways of approaching old tasks. Don’t let your pet’s needs get lost in the shuffle; that six-month vet appointment card you used to keep on the fridge may get swept up in the move, so keep a reminder on your digital calendar of choice. Those heartworm meds might have a way of sneaking down to the bottom of a storage box if you don’t pack them intelligently, so keep an eye on where they go when you’re packing. If your pup’s used to taking a walk every morning at 7:15, do everything in your power to keep up the habit in your new neighborhood. Stability and routine aren’t only a great way to make your pets feel at home i n the new place; they’re also critical to keeping them healthy.

Before you make the leap to a new home, let Moveline take the stress out of the process. We offer a free series of services to help you get a fair quote and simplify your move by assigning you a Move Captain to help you every step of the way. We can even connect you with pet moving specialists to make the transition for you and your furry family a simple and healthy one.

There’s no reason to go it alone. Let us help. It’s what we do.