Moving Preparation: The Go-To Guide for Pet Owners

While moving into a new home is exciting, it is also a stressful process. While you are racing to complete a lengthy to-do list before your scheduled move date, your pet is likely wondering why you are packing everything in the house. They sense the change and may not understand what is happening, and that leads to confusion and stress.

Your job is to organize a smooth move that keeps everyone safe, but there are some things that you must do along the way to ease the anxiety that your pet is likely to experience. This guide will tell you how to prepare your pet for the move right now as well as how to maximize their comfort during travel. You will even pick up some tips on helping your pet adjust to the new house.

Preparing for the Move
While you can't shield your pet from unsettling changes in your household routines prior to a move, you can pack all of your pet's items last. Toys, bedding, bones and other comfort items will provide a sense of security and comfort that your pet needs during this stressful time. There are five more things that you should do now to make the upcoming move easier for everyone involved.

1. Maintain your pet's daily schedule as much as possible.
Your schedule is not likely to remain consistent in the weeks leading up to a big move, but that does not mean that you can't give your pet the gift of consistency right up to moving day. Even if you are not personally available to complete all of the daily routines with your pet, you should find a way to make sure that your pet's daily schedule remains consistent in four areas:

• Mealtimes
• Snacks
• Exercise
• Bedtime and naps

If your dog is accustomed to early morning walks, they will notice if you suddenly start putting them in the backyard alone instead. Late or inconsistent meals, loud activity that deprives them of sleep or a lack of exercise can lead to bad behaviors from otherwise well-behaved cats and dogs.

You can avoid many problems by finding creative solutions to ensure that your pet's routines are maintained. For instance, you may hire a dog walker if you are unable to walk with your dog each day.

2. Look for signs of distress so that you can soothe your pet when needed.
According to Service Dog Central, it is common for dogs to lose control of their bladder, display shallow breathing or change their facial expressions when stressed out or anxious. They may also start digging holes in the backyard or trying to escape, and you may catch them scratching at the furniture or using the restroom inside the house. They might walk with their tail in an unusual position.

mprep-dogCats can display similar behaviors when they are stressed out, so watch for any behavior that is unusual for your pet. Respond by reassuring your pet and spending a little time petting their fur or cuddling on the couch. You can soothe an anxious cat by using a calming collar or a soothing flower blend like Back Rescue Remedy. You may put your dog at ease by playing a round of fetch or by placing them in a quiet, familiar area of the house that is isolated from activities associated with the move.

3. Collect quality pet supplies needed to keep your dog or cat comfortable during the trip.

Several items include:

• Medications, if needed
• Metal crate or carrier
• Carrier bumpers and other comfort items
• Water dispenser and bottled water
• Containers to hold snacks and portioned meals
• Disinfectant wipes
• Collar or harness with ID tags attached
• Leash
• First-aid kit

The Humane Society also recommends bringing a current picture of your pet and ensuring that your phone number is displayed on their ID tags.

4. Introduce your pet to the carrier or crate.
If your pet is not accustomed to confinement in a small space, you do not want to place them in a crate or carrier and hit the road on moving day without at least one trial run. Start by setting the crate in your pet's familiar living environment with the door open, allowing them to explore the space at their own pace.

Once they are willing to enter the carrier or crate, lock the door and take them for a short ride through the neighborhood. Continue with frequent trips in the carrier, making each one longer than the last.

5. Ask your veterinarian for tips and guidelines.
No one knows how your pet may respond to the stress of a long move better than the vet. Schedule an appointment and ask the following questions:

• Can moving aggravate any of my pet's medical issues?
• Is my pet in good enough health to safely handle this trip?
• What can I do to soothe my pet while traveling?
• Do you recommend using medication or other products to soothe my pet before, during or after our trip?
• Can you recommend a good vet in our new neighborhood?

Your next step is to select a reputable vet in your new city or state. Make an appointment to introduce your pet soon after you arrive at your new home.

During the Move
You will need to pack your pet's belongings before heading out on moving day, but keep some comfort items on hand. Toys and other familiar items will reassure your pet that they are safe during travel, and they may reduce the amount of whining, crying or barking that you have to endure while on the road.

Just as it was important to maintain your pet's daily routine before the move, it is critical that you meet all of your pet's daily needs while traveling. Locate truck stops, rest areas, gas stations and other suitable stopping areas along your route, determining where and when you will stop to care for your pet. Many rest areas have walking paths, picnic shelters and grassy areas where dogs can exercise, relax and eat.

mprep-dog2If you plan to stop overnight, make sure that you reserve rooms at pet-friendly hotels. It is best to call the hotel to make the reservation, ensuring that they understand you are traveling with a pet. Early reservations will ensure that you can find a room to happily accommodate your four-legged family members.

While on the road, make sure that your pet remains in the carrier or crate.  They should have a water dispenser so that they do not dehydrate, and you must stop frequently for bathroom and meal breaks. When you have to relieve your bladder or get a bite to eat, your pet likely has the same need.

When going into restaurants or gas stations, keep in mind that you can't leave your pet in a hot or cold car for an extended period of time. You may need to pack food for you and picnic together at a rest area.

After the Move
Congratulations! You have made it through the process of packing and transporting your entire household to a new home. Now it is time to settle in and get everyone back into a normal daily routine. While you have boxes to unpack, furniture to position and a new vet to meet, the first thing that you should do is establish a safe retreat for your pet.  This is a quiet area where they can go when feeling overwhelmed, anxious or confused. Place all of their personal belongings in this area and introduce your pet to the space right away.

Try to spend quality time with your pet each day, even when you are busy. Reassure them that everything is okay, take them on walks or simply sit by a window and have a petting session. This is not the time to establish new routines or bring out new toys and bedding, so try to mimic the life that your pet enjoyed before the move. You may want to start over with new furniture and a new home, but your pet needs as much consistency as possible to feel comfortable.

The best thing that you can do to help your pet adjust to this major life change is give them time to explore. Do not leave them in the backyard until they are familiar with that space, and keep their familiar items around the house at all times. Spend time walking around the neighborhood and meeting friends at the dog park. This is a big adjustment for everyone, but it does not have to cause long-term stress for your dog or cat if you start planning for the adjustment period before your big moving day arrives.