You’re excited about your move to a new home and town, but you’re also a little apprehensive. Guess what? Your pet will also be apprehensive if you don’t take precautions and plan ahead for the move.
“A lot of it comes down to common sense,” says Marc Morrison of Animal Land Pet Movers in Atlanta. Since 1999, his company has handled the complete travel needs of pets domestically and internationally.
Family pets are an important part of so many people’s lives. Whether you’re moving across the country or to the other side of town, pets are bound to be a part of the journey.
“You just have to take precautions. Even if your dog is usually calm, they might become skittish in all the frenzy,” Morrison adds.
For instance, imagine you’re on the road and make a stop at a rest area. Your dog jumps out the door and you can’t get him back to the car. Or, imagine that you’re flying the animal to your new home. You’ll need to do a lot of research on that particular airline’s rules on animals.
While planning your move, you should decide if you should move your animals on your own. If you have two rambunctious cats to transport from New York to San Diego, it isn’t impossible to transport them by car, Morrison says. You are driving anyways, so it’s your least expensive choice.
“We do encourage folks to do it themselves. But our business is helping people get their pets from one place to the new home,” he says.
Travel plans depend heavily on whether the move is international or domestic, or if you have a small dog or a Great Dane.
“We have dealt with all of them. If you aren’t driving yourself, then the answer becomes complicated.
Here are some other pointers on moving with your pets that can ease the transition and simplify your stress:
Preparing for the trip
If your animal hasn’t been in a carrier before, you should allow them to sit in the carrier for days or even weeks before the move. Put a toy or blanket inside and give praise when the animal goes inside it.
You should also try carrying your pets around the house in the crate or taking a short drive, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). You can promote your pet’s positive association with the crate by providing treats and playtime at the end of their crate time.
Lastly, the night before you move, put your cats in a closed room or bathroom and don’t let them out, Morrison says.
“More than once, we have gone to pick up cats for transportation, and they were gone. One time, a lady had five cats, but she could only find three on moving day. She had to leave without two of them. It was a little heartbreaking. Cats know something is going on,” he adds.
If you have a dog that runs away or is hyper, consider keeping them at a kennel the day of moving so they can’t get away when the doors are open for movers.
Driving with your pet
Planning is your godsend when you will be moving with pets for a long distance. If you pet is coming along on the road, you need to make time for pit stops and should have a litter box in the car for your cat. If you have a dog, obviously you need to stop along the way. Remember to pack treats, leashes, water container, favorite blanket for the ride and toys to make your pet feel more at home on the ride and once they get to the new abode.
Flying your pet
When transporting your animal by air yourself, make sure to get the right crate per the airline’s regulations.
“Not getting the right crate is the No. 1 reason we see people and their pets turned away at the airport,” Morrison adds.
Don’t show up at the airport with your pet sedated. They will refuse them if sedated. For a car drive, that can be fine if you have a very anxious animal, Morrison says.
Beyond all this, each individual airline has their own rules and regulations. Some require a health certificate done on an animal 10 days before the flight. A veterinarian needs to give them a clean bill of health, he says.
What to do after the move
Once you get in your new home, just keep the pet close to you. Give them a lot of extra love and pats. Just like humans, they need to feel that everything will be OK.
Morrison suggests you look for a vet once you’re settled into your new place. You can check out Yelp, too, for their reviews.
Once you move in, ASPCA says to start allowing the pets to adjust to one room. Start with their home base where their treats, water and food bowls are located, plus litter box for the cat. When they eventually get comfortable, introduce them to other rooms one at time while keeping other doors shut.
Understand that animals go with the flow (most of the time)
Morrison says that in the years he has moved pets, rarely do they go out of control.
“Honestly, we’ve done long transports. I have never seen a dog be more agitated for more than five minutes, and then they just lie down and chill out,” he says.
Of course, every time you stop for gasoline, the process will repeat itself. Cats can be a little more fickle. I had one cat meow for six hours straight in the car.”