smooth move: how to prepare pets for a move

Dr. Kim Smyth
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jan 07 2013


Dog riding in cardboard box | How to prepare pets for a move


As a veterinarian and the daughter of a military father, I know firsthand how stressful moving can be –not only on the human members of a family, but also on their pets. When I was a child, I think the constant moving only brought me closer to my pets, as I viewed them as best friends that I never had to leave because they moved with us.

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Because your pets are such an important part of you and your children’s lives, it’s important to include them in your moving plans from the beginning. There are few things sadder than having to move without your pets, or arriving to your destination to find that your pets aren’t accepted. Planning out your move well in advance can avoid this heartbreak.

6 tips to prepare pets for a move

1. Before you even start looking for new housing, check into local ordinances regarding pets. Some cities have enacted breed bans that may limit you and your pet from moving there. Be sure your new housing situation accepts pets.

2. Arrange for a final veterinary visit for your pets. This way you can get a clean bill of health and obtain a copy of their veterinary records to pass on to their next vet. You should also get a health certificate for each pet. It will be required if you are traveling to your new home by air, and though it’s rare, you could be stopped when crossing state lines by car and asked for your pets’ health certificates.

3. If you’re moving overseas, be sure to thoroughly research the requirements for pet entry into a foreign country. Military veterinarians have lots of practice in this area. If your pets normally see a civilian veterinarian, make sure you bring all of your paperwork with you – you can’t rely on them to know all of the regulations your new country may have.

4. If you are traveling by air, visit the airline’s website for specific information on flying with pets, including where they can ride and what size crates they will need. You don’t want to have your pets get turned away from a flight on moving day.

5. If you’re traveling by car and you have anxious pets or pets who get carsick, make sure your vet has prescribed enough medication to get you and your pets to your final destination.

6. Before you move, notify the company that supplied your pets’ microchips. Let them know you’ll be moving and give them your new contact information. Do the same with your dog insurance and cat insurance provider. Petplan pet insurance offers coverage in all 50 states and Washington D.C., so no matter where in the U.S. you travel, your best friends will be protected.

During the move

Pay special attention to your pets during the moving process. Pets pick up on the anxiety that the family may feel about the move, and seeing the house being slowly boxed up can cause them some anxiety, too.

Make sure they have a safe place to retreat. This is especially important on moving day, when strangers are coming into the house and removing all of their worldly possessions. Keep your pets safely enclosed in a room with a “Do not disturb” sign, or board them for the day. The last thing you need is an escapee on moving day.

After the move

Similarly, when you get to your new home, make sure your pets are safe and secure as they acclimate to their new surroundings. Show them around their new digs, and forgive the occasional bad behavior as they are adjusting to the new layout.

Consider using pheromone diffusers to ease their anxieties during their first few weeks in the new house. Don’t let your pets out of the house off-leash during the adjustment period – recently moved pets are notorious for getting lost and seeking out their old homes, even if they are hundreds of miles away.

Your pets are a part of your family, and you’d never willingly leave a family member behind. Planning ahead and getting all of your ducks in a row before you even pack the first box will ensure that your whole family can have a smooth move together.

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