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10 Tips for Moving with Dogs and Cats

Jon Fesmire | January 28, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

Moving can be stressful for cats and dogs. Think about it; they know the house and the neighborhood. They know where they feel comfortable, where their food is, and they get used to a routine. Unfortunately, when their humans start packing up everything in the house, they can’t understand what’s happening.

Here are some tips to make your next move easier on your cat or dog.

Introduce Crates Early

During your move, you may need to put your cat or dog in a crate. If your pets aren’t used to these confining spaces, you’ll need to acclimate them. Start by putting their food in the new travel box and keeping the door open, so they’ll have to go in to eat. In time, start shutting the door while they’re eating, and later, locking it. Carry your pet in the crate, and take short drives with them. The drives should start at about 10 minutes, and go to 20 or so. After they have time in the crate, give them treats and play with them.

By moving day, they should be used to the crate or kennel and will be ready to travel in it to your new home.

Prepare Medications

Visit your pet’s veterinarian before you move. You’ll want to make sure you have all your pet’s prescriptions, and ask what your pet may need while traveling. Your current vet may have a recommendation for a new vet where you’re moving as well.

Prepare a Travel Kit

A few days before the move, make sure you have everything you need for an overnight kit for your pet, especially if it will take more than a day to reach your destination. Remember their food, toys, a grooming kit, and, for the cats, kitty litter and an extra litter box.

Put Your Cat in a Single Room

While this applies primarily to cats, it may apply to some dogs as well. Pack up a small room and move everything out of it. You could use a bathroom for this task as well. Then, put your cat in that room with their litter box, food, water, and toys. Cats can get nervous when seeing everything getting moved out of the house, and this will help minimize their stress. Visit your cat now and then (making sure they don’t make a break for it when you open the door) and let them know everything’s fine.

Let Your Dog Observe

Dogs are much more social animals than cats, and they may feel left out if you keep them in a room while you pack everything. So, keep the dog on a leash and assign one person to watch them, and let your dog see what you’re up to.

If you sense that the dog is getting too stressed by observing, you can put them in a room and have someone stay with them.

Crates and Kennels in Last

After you’ve packed the moving truck, it’s time to put the carrier or kennel in the car. Carriers should fit easily in the back seat, while Kennels may need extra room. Put your pet in the carrier and move them to your car, not to the truck. If possible, have someone sit a back seat near them.

Keep Them Safe

If you need to get out of the car at any time, such as to use a restroom or to dine, do your best to park the vehicle in the shade and to open the windows enough for your pet to breathe comfortably. Also, make sure they have food and water.

If you’re traveling with a dog, do your best to take your best friend for walks at the usual times.

If you’re staying in a hotel, bring your pet in with you, in the carrier or kennel, though you can let them roam the room. Take your dog for a walk and make sure to set up your cat’s litter box.

Bring Them in First

At your new home, bring your pet in first, in their carrier, and get them set up in a room. This includes dogs, who may be confused at the new home. Put out their food, water, and so on, and get everything brought into the house, and the house locked up, before letting your pet roam.

A Note on Cats

Indoor Cats live far longer than outdoor cats. Even if your cat was an indoor/outdoor pet at your old place, you can turn them into an indoor cat after your move. They’ll quickly learn to accept that the status quo at the new home is life indoors. We recommend doing this for your cat’s health and safety. Outdoor cats tend to live from 2 to 5 years, while indoor cats live up to about 17 years.

Final Steps

Shortly after you move in, update your pet’s collar tag and microchip, and find a local vet. You may also want to look for a dog park and pet groomers.

We hope these tips help you and your furry companion during your next move. Mostly, what this comes down to is common sense and compassion, and if you have those things, you’ll do fine.

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