Tips For Moving With a Pet

Move-Entire-Family

“Moving is very stressful for a family,” acknowledges the ASPCA. “That stress is also experienced by the pets. They want to know that they’ll be going, too.” This stress can be a problem whether you are moving with your dog or moving with your cat.

Sadly, some people abandon their pets when they move. According to research published by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, moving is identified as the most common reason that dogs or cats are abandoned to shelters. The vast majority of these perfectly healthy pets end up being put to death. For this reason, MOVING has become one of the most common causes of death for family pets....pets who depended on their owners and looked to them for their very lives.

Why in the world would someone move and NOT bring their pet with them, as a responsible pet owner would do? Almost 40% of pet owners cited the reason was the refusal of a landlord to allow the animal.

Never get rid of your pet just to please a landlord. Landlords come and go. Apartments will come and go. But your pet is a living creature, a miracle of life, and a part of your family. Consider any other option besides getting rid of them.

Thankfully, for most people, leaving their companion animals behind is rightfully out of the question. With a little bit of preparation, you can ensure that your next move will go smoothly for you and your pets.


Before the Move

Cats and dogs typically respond to a family relocation with different behaviors. In general, cats don’t adapt to change as readily as their canine counterparts. Felines thrive on constancy, and any disruption in their environment can create stress related behavioral changes. An independent cat may suddenly become clingy. Or a cat who’s normally outgoing may suddenly start hiding and acting reclusive. These behavioral changes are typically only temporary until your pet adapts to the new environment.

There is a new product on the market that could prove to be especially helpful for cat owners during a move and transition to a new home. It is called “Feliway”. You can find the product Online. Basically it is a spray and diffuser that releases cat relaxation pheromones into the air. You've probably noticed the common behavior of cats when they rub on an object. They are actually marking that object with this exact same pheromone, one that says “this object is familiar to me”. It relaxes the cat to smell this familiar pheromone, and makes them feel like they are “home”. When a cat's environment is disrupted and they feel stressed or dislocated from their normal habitat, they can adopt certain behavioral traits such as urinating and scratching where they aren't suppose to. This product was proven effective in clinical trials to modify the behavior of the cat, relax and calm them, and even end these unwanted behaviors. Plug a diffuser into your new apartment before you bring them there. Also use the hand held spray to spray inside their carrier before travel, and to spray each corner of the new apartment, as well as any protruding objects, and any new furniture that the cat has not encountered before.

Whether you have a cat or a dog, the most important thing any pet owner can do before moving with their pets is “plan, plan, plan,” says Steve Zawistowski, Ph.D., senior vice president of ASPCA Animal Sciences.

I know what you are thinking “I'm moving to Dallas with my pet. HOW can I prepare my animal ahead of time for some of the changes that are ahead, and reduce the stress?” Well, if the only time your pet is exposed to the carrier is when she or he goes to the vet, probably even just seeing the carrier invokes stress and means something bad is going to happen. To change that, now is the time to start leaving the carrier out where they can examine it daily and come to view it as an every day item. Place your pet’s favorite blanket or toy in the carrier. Feed him or her treats in the carrier, and praise them whenever they go inside. Play with them inside the carrier. This applies to cats or dogs that are small enough to fit inside a carrier.

Along those similar lines of reasoning, your move will likely involve taking your pet in the car at some point to get to the new apartment. If Fido’s only experience in a car is to go to the vet and get shots, it would be a good idea to start now, ahead of time, acclimating him to riding in the car and taking pleasurable short trips, such as going to the park or going over to visit a family member. Positive association with car trips will help decrease anxiety on the day of the move.

The time has come for the movers to arrive and load up all your stuff. What do you do with your pets? The best option is to let them stay with a neighbor, friend or family member that day, and just go pick them up after the move is over. If you don't have any friends or family in the area, then you can take your dog to a local Doggy Day Care to stay and play that day while the move is going on. Then you just have to pick them up at the end of the day and bring them to your new apartment. It's recommended that you acclimate them ahead of time to the Doggy Day Care, if possible, so it will be a familiar place to them. This will lessen the stress. Note: Most Doggy Day Care places do require that your pet be current on all their shots and that you present proof of such.

Another option is to place your cat or small pet inside a hard sided carrier with plenty of bedding, and place the carrier in a quiet confined room (could be a bathroom) where the movers will not be going. If your dog is too large for a carrier, you can just place the dog himself in the confined room. Empty the room ahead of time of boxes and furniture and then place a sign on the door telling movers not to enter. Many times in the confusion of a move, with doors left open and people coming and going loading the truck or trucks, pets slip outside the door and get lost. Confining them to an area is the best way to keep them safe and secure, while at the same time minimizing their stress and yours.

When the time comes to actually put the carrier containing your small animal in the car to drive to your new apartment, it is recommended that you cover the carrier with a sheet. If you are going to be driving for a long time, you can remove the sheet after a few hours, when the animal is a little more relaxed.

For dogs who are not in a carrier, they should be restrained. Safety harnesses are the best way to restrain your dog. They attach to the seat belt and allow your dog to sit or stand comfortably. Another option, if you have an SUV, is to use a safety gate designed especially for the car, to confine your dog to the back part of the SUV. Be sure to include comfortable bedding.

Don’t forget to pack a separate bag for your pet. If your pets food and necessary items are all packed in boxes, it might take you a while to find them. Set aside in the bag their food, bowls, bedding, leashes, toys, treats, litter box and litter (if you have a cat). If you are going to be driving for some time, relocating to Dallas for your new apartment, then also bring a gallon of water because water changes regionally and this will allow them to gradually adjust to the new water.

If you are traveling long distances with a cat, they can typically travel for 8 hours without having to use the litter box, but it's a good idea to bring a disposable liter box for emergencies or in case you stop at a hotel. Many hotels allow pets. Almost all La Quinta hotels allow pets nationwide. Call hotels ahead of time and confirm their pet policies. Don't leave it to chance. You will need to bring proof of your pets vaccinations in order for any hotel to allow your pet.

It's also a good idea to bring a pet first aid kit, and extra towels and wipes in case of accidents, as well as little bags for picking up your dogs waste. Make sure your pet is wearing their collar and ID tags, and keep your dog leashed at all times.

It's a good idea to have a new ID tag printed (at any Petsmart) with your new address, and with your cell #.

Keep a current health certificate for your pet handy and available if you are doing interstate travel, because many states require one. Highway patrolmen have the right to inspect your pet’s health certificate if you are pulled over for any reason. You can be fined for not having one. Your Vet can issue an appropriate health certificate.

If you do stay overnight in a hotel, look around the room for any dangers before letting your pet out of their carrier or your dog off his leash. Hotels provide an opportunity for your pet to escape and become lost, especially when room service enters to clean the room. They frequently prop open the door while cleaning. Be sure to leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of your hotel room, and never leave them alone for very long in the room.


New Home Sweet Home

When you reach your new apartment, confine your pet to a single room. Take a full inspection of the entire apartment before you let your animal out. Only after all of your boxes and furniture have been moved in, and all of the movers have left, should you let your animals out to explore.

If you have a pet who is especially freaked out or afraid of the new environment, you might keep them confined for a day or two to that one room until they become much more comfortable and relaxed before you open the door and let them begin to explore. That way, if they become afraid while exploring, they can always return back to the one familiar room where you have been keeping them, and resume the exploration whenever they are ready. Do not try to force your pet to explore, or rush them. Let them venture out at their own pace, when they are comfortable. Try placing their food just outside the door, if they are reluctant to exit the room, for added encouragement.

Now is not the time to change your pet's routines or schedules. If your cat’s litter box was kept in the bathroom of your previous apartment, put it in the bathroom in the new apartment. If your dog has been accustomed to eating twice a day, or going for a walk first thing in the morning, don’t suddenly change his schedule. If you must make any adjustments, they should be made slowly. You want the stress of the new place to wear off before you start making additional changes.

It's also important that YOU stay as calm as possible. A lot of the stress that your animal feels actually comes from you. If you’re anxious, your animal is going to pick up on it, and their emotions will mirror yours. If you maintain a calm demeanor, then that will be projected onto your animal and they are more likely to feel calm also.

Moving with a pet to Dallas may not be a simple breeze, but following these easy tips can make the transition go much smoother. Bringing our pets along is definitely part of the obligation we have to them. With just a little forethought and planning ahead, moving to a new apartment with your pet can be accomplished with a minimum of stress...both for yourself AND for your animal companions.

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