As you prepare to change addresses, don’t forget to take care of your animal friends, who will not immediately understand that they are in new surroundings. Use these steps to help you get them through the process.
1. Prep an “in-case-of” kit
Having an easily-accessible overnight kit that has enough dog food, kitty litter, toys and grooming tools to sustain your pet will help keep them comfortable during the first few days of unpacking.
2. Talk to your vet
If you’re moving out of the area, inform your vet so you can take records and any prescription medications with you. See if they can recommend another vet in your new neighborhood.
3. Quiet, safe space
If you don’t want to leave your pets with a friend or a kennel for the day (which is recommended), at least keep them out of the path of movers. You can designate a bedroom on another floor for them, or put them in their carrier or kennel in the garage or car (make sure they’ll be at a safe temperature and that they have water and food if they will be there for some time).
Check in on them regularly, and try to feed or walk them at the time you usually would; having some sense of a routine in the midst of all the changes will help a lot.
4. Use your own vehicle
If you can, take the pet to the new house in your own car – one they are used to. Some animals feel more comfortable if you throw a blanket over their carrier during the car ride so they can’t see the environment changing outside.
5. Go straight from old to new
Once your pets are in the car, it’s important to not open the kennel until they are in the new home, even if the pet is usually well-behaved or docile. Give them a few days in the new home to adjust.
Tip for cat owners: more and more people are keeping their cats indoors for safety reasons, and a move is a good opportunity to get them used to being inside, as they won’t be used to being allowed out in the new home. Use this transition to your advantage.
6. Set up as much of your new home as you can
Set up as many familiar furnishings as you can, even just in one room, before you introduce the animal to the new home. Confine your pet to a section of the house while they adjust to their surroundings, and give them lots of attention and introduce familiar objects like toys or blankets as soon as possible.
7. Update the details
After you move, make sure you update their tags or microchip information to the new address and phone number.
8. Fish are a challenge…
Fish don’t do well with stress and a move can be traumatizing, if not fatal. You can move them short distances in bags full of old tank water (check with your local pet store for supplies and more details). If you have a long distance to travel, it’s best to give them away, empty the tank, and buy new fish after you unpack.
9. …as are guinea pigs
Guinea pigs also don’t like change, and can suffer from heart problems if stressed too much. Make sure they are transported in a warm, comfortable, small carrier.
10. Feathered friends
Many people announce that their bird has never flown off the shoulder – only to be hit with the feathers of irony as their bird takes off during a move. Birds are very jittery about change. So even when the smartest parrot balks at the idea of being put in a cage, please do it on moving day.