While you’re busy purging unnecessary belongings, packing boxes, and watching the movers take your furniture and baggage out the door, your pets may be completely confused by the chaos in your home. Julie Hansen, a veterinarian and chair of Veterinary Technology at Argosy University in Eagan, MN reminds us that “pets don’t really understand what’s happening, and it’s up to us to make them comfortable.” The process can be easier on everyone, family and pets, with careful planning before, during, and after the move.
Preparing your pet for change: Pets can read your emotions and the best way to keep animals calm is to stay calm yourself. This may be difficult in a moving situation, but veterinarian Walter Woolf, who also owns Air Animal Pet Movers, tells us to at least try to fake calm and avoid meltdowns in the presence of your pets. He says to calmly talk to your pets about the move, not because they will understand the words, but because your calm voice will influence a positive mood. He also suggests that if your pet will move via his first airplane ride, simulate the sounds and motion of flight by taking the pet through a car wash; speak calmly to him while the water and brushes swish against your car.
OTHER WAYS TO PREPARE FOR THE MOVE INCLUDE:
– Reduce your dog’s or cat’s food by one-third a few days before the move so his tummy won’t be too full on the plane or in the car.
– Be sure your pet is microchipped and has ID tags with your new address on them. In the event of an escape, disaster may be avoided!
– Contact your vet to get copies of your pet’s health records so you’ll have them for your new veterinarian; check if a health certificate is required in your new home’s state.
– If you’re moving out of the U.S., work ahead of time with your vet to learn what tests, paperwork, vaccinations, or inspections are required by your destination country. Be aware that some countries have a six-month waiting period between when the appropriate paperwork is filed and when the animal is permitted into the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture website gives more information about international pet regulations.
– Collect and tape some boxes at least several days before the move so your pet can become accustomed to the sights and sounds of moving day.
– If your pet will be moving in a carrier, let him smell and inspect it before the big move. Put a familiar blanket or treats in the carrier to make it a more positive experience.
On moving day: This day can be very stressful for you and your pet! Strangers are in and out of the house, removing everything familiar. If your pet is used to having play dates, this is a good day to enjoy something he likes. Otherwise, place your pet in a crate or quiet room where the movers won’t go.
When it’s time to leave, your pet should be put in the car at the last minute to avoid overheating and over-stressing. For nervous animals, put a sheet or towel over the crate since passing scenery may frighten pets who haven’t travelled before. As your pet calms, you can remove the cover.
Introducing Fido or Fluffy to your new home: First, inspect your new home to ensure there are no hazards left behind, like cleaning products, rodent/ant poisons, holes in walls or cabinets. Then open the crate and let your pet explore on his own. Dogs are very curious and may run around, sniffing everything; cats are usually more cautious and take their time getting to know this strange new world.
When movers arrive, once again crate your pet or put them in a safe room away from these strangers. If possible, arrange familiar furniture and re-establish feeding and potty schedules to reassure pets that some things are stable in their lives. If they slept with you in the past, resume that habit. Give your friend time to adjust with as much support as you can.
Enjoy your new home and help your pet to do the same!
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