Whether you own a cat, a dog, or a chinchilla — moving with pets can be a daunting task.
From searching for a home that suits your pets as much as you to the actual journey to your new location—there are countless do’s and do not’s to traveling with your furry friends.
Here are some helpful tips to help you through each step of moving with pets.
Searching for the Perfect Home
Whether you’re searching for a home in an area close to your current proximity, or you’re looking for a home out of state, you may begin to realize how important it is for you to find a home or community that is known for its pet-friendly atmosphere. If that’s the case, concentrate your search on locations known for their incredible surroundings that can provide a high quality of life for you and your pets.
- Nearby animal hospitals. It’s a good idea to check the proximity of veterinary hospitals from your potential home. If there’s ever an emergency, you’ll already know the closest place to get assistance for your animal. It can be difficult to find communities that have onsite animal hospitals, but they do exist!
- If you have the option to attend open houses to each home on your short list, try imagining what life would be like within each space. Is there ample room for your pet? Is there a yard for your dog? Is there enough natural light for your cat to bask in?
Traveling to Your New Home
Finding that perfect home, learning all that useful home buyer lingo, and even closing on your new house will all feel like a cakewalk compared to when you’re about to travel with your pet.
Sadly, we can’t discuss with our pets our plans to move. We can’t let them know that the car ride will be as exhausting for you as it is for them. We can’t explain what an airplane ride will feel like.
We can, however, do our best to prepare our pets for the move in other ways.
- Regardless of whether you’re flying or driving, take your pets to the vet before you set off on your journey. Make sure your pet is healthy, that any needed vaccinations have been administered, and any medication is refilled or refreshed.
- Ask for their professional opinion. Discuss your moving plans with your vet, and make sure to mention in what way you’ll be transporting the animal. For instance, one veterinarian may suggest a light sedative for an animal traveling by plane, while another might be against it. Your vet will have the knowledge to help you plan for a stress-free trip.
- Stay calm before the move. Pets can sense your stress and anxiety (so can your kids!). Prepare yourself well beforehand, and leave as early as possible to give yourself ample time travel to your destination or the airport.
If you’re traveling by car:
- Practice traveling with your animals beforehand. Give your pet the chance to acclimate to the environment of a moving vehicle. If you plan to keep a cat in a specific carrier, use that carrier during each short practice trip. If you plan to keep your dog in a back set, or in a specific partition, make sure that you’re using proper security equipment to keep your canine safe during the entirety of the drive.
- Keep water available at all times. Stressful rides can lead to dehydration!
If you’re traveling by plane:
- Familiarize yourself with your airline's pet policy. Will your pet be flying with you in the cabin, or will they be below the cabin? Are there specific carrier restrictions? Not all animals are suited to travel by air. It’s important that your veterinarian gives you the okay before you fly.
- Try and ease the stress of travel by choosing a direct flight to your destination. If your pet will be traveling below the cabin, make sure to fly when temperatures aren’t extremely hot or cold.
- Ask to watch your pet be loaded and unloaded, and make sure to be on the same flight.
- Upon arrival, check on your pet immediately. If something seems off, taking them to the closest animal hospital as soon as possible.
You’ve Arrived! Now What?
Now that you’ve arrived at your new home, it’s important to monitor your animal closely for the first few days.
This change in location might bring about a change in demeanor and appetite. Notice your pet’s habits, paying attention to their eating, drinking, as bathroom habits.
New places mean new plants, grasses, and in-home objects your pet might become too curious about. Make sure that you pet-proof the inside of your home as well as any grassy areas. You may be unfamiliar with plant and grass species indigenous to your home that could be harmful to your pet companion. If you see a plant you’re unfamiliar with, research it before you let Fluffy play in the yard unsupervised.
Lastly, remember that animals will become comfortable in new spaces at different rates. It may take a day or it might take a month.
Once you’ve pet-proofed your new living space, give your pet the time and space they need to get comfortable. Set up their food, water, and bed in an area that’s easily accessible.
Soon enough, you’ll have a pet that’s as happy as you are to be in a new home.
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