The chaos of moving makes it hard to give your pets the attention they need. But taking the time to help your dog or cat stay stress-free will be worth it. Why? Because no one wants an upset, sick, or lost pet, especially at such a busy time.
Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets happy during your move:
1 Recognize the signs of stress.
Cats may try to hide or start “meowing” a lot. A dog can get destructive or stop eating. A move becomes much more stressful for you when you’re not able to find your cat or when you discover a mattress ripped apart.
Has your cat been having accidents outside of its litter box? Or licking its fur so much that there are bald spots? Maybe your dog is shedding more, or is panting or even yawning more than normal. All of these behaviors may be signs that your pet is stressed.
Why is stress so bad for a dog or cat? Just like humans, stress can cause health problems for your pet. Stress can also make life with a pet more difficult and lead to destructive habits.
2 Help your pet stay calm in the chaos of a move. Packing boxes and a change in routine may be your pet’s signal that something big is about to happen. Try to keep your pet’s environment stable to avoid stressing them out. Serve meals at the regular time. Keep up your pet’s usual level of walks and exercise, or even consider taking your dog outside more often to avoid boredom and destruction later while you pack.
Watch that you don’t take out your own stress on your pet with harsh words. Just like kids, your emotions can quickly become reflected in the behavior of your pet.
3 You are your pet’s best advocate. Don’t assume what one pet owner does is best for your cat or dog.
While some pet-experts recommend a boarding facility or a friend’s home to keep a pet out of the way of movers, others will recommend keeping pets close-by in a familiar environment. Plan for what your pet will respond to best when the big day arrives. If your dogs are aggressive toward strangers, you may want to board them when the movers are packing. If your cats are escape-artists, putting them in a safe spot, like a crate or locked room, may be your best bet.
4 But all of the planning in the world may not be able to account for a pet’s unpredictable behavior on moving day. Make sure you have a backup plan to keep your pet safe if they do escape or start to get anxious.
Update your dog or cat’s microchip information to include a phone number where you can be reached during the move. Put an updated tag with your new address on your pet’s collar — but don’t remove the old tag until you are settled into your new home.
Plan for a place to take your pet if keeping them at your home proves to be difficult. PCS season can mean full boarding facilities, so check with friends or family who might be able to take your pet.
As you hit the road, make sure you have a plan. Find out what hotel chains are pet friendly. Book ahead for boarding at your destination if you know you won’t be able to move in right away. Just like kids, stressed pets don’t make for good companions in a car when searching for a hotel.
5 When you move into your home, your pet needs a safe environment to begin to get settled. An anxious cat may find dangerous places to hide. A bored dog can dig holes under a fence. Don’t let your pet loose in your new place too soon! Before letting your pet explore their new home, do a pet-focused inspection both inside and outdoors.
With a little bit of planning, you can help keep your pets happy during your move. You’ll be thanked with better behavior and the peace of mind that you and your four-legged friend will soon enjoy your new home together.
Traveling with a pet, especially during a move, can bring extra stress for everyone. Make sure you have a lodging plan to avoid late nights searching for a place to stay and headaches that can come with being stuck in a hotel that doesn’t meet your pet’s needs.