|Moving yourself is difficult, moving yourself and your family even more so, but add in a pet to transport to your new home and things become exponentially harder.
Thankfully, if you prepare correctly, come moving day your furry best friend can be moved with as little stress as possible, for you and them.
Look up pet travel regulations
The first thing to do before moving your pet is to confirm that they are allowed to be moved from your home to a certain province, territory or even another country.
For example, Canada has very different rules for dogs and cats than other countries have in their pet policies.
Prep for the move
Before you move your pet, there are a few things to take into account, including getting them used to the idea of being placed in a carrier and being moved to a brand new home. Before moving day actually comes, you should:
- Take the pet carrier out a few weeks to several days in advance so your pet gets used to it
- Stock it with familiar treats and toys to give the carrier positive associations
- Bring your pet or pets to your new home to get a feel for this new environment, if your new home is close enough to make the trip
- Think about doing a moving day test run with your pet so the stimuli isn't completely new the day of your move
Moving is stressful enough for humans, so imagine how confusing and bewildering it is for an animal who doesn't understand why its environment is changing so suddenly.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to minimize stress:
- Try to keep your pet's schedule as normal as possible (this includes feeding and walking times)
- Surround them with familiar stimuli like their favourite treats and toys
- Consider leaving them with a friend or family member while you move
- Designate a room just for them out of the way of the chaos keeping in mind all of the above
TIP: Mark the room your animal or animals are in with a sign so that movers don't accidentally let your pets out. The last thing you want on moving day is a lost family member.
Travelling by car
When at all possible, try to move your pet by car. Not only is it a much more controlled environment for their needs, but it is also less chaotic than air travel.
- Confirm that the pet carrier you have used in the past or recently purchased has good air flow and allows your pet to move (especially if you are travelling long distance)
- For dogs not using a pet carrier, strap them into the backseat using a dog car seat or harness to prevent injury
- Keep your pet in a well-ventilated area - never transport an animal in the trunk, the back of a moving truck or any other enclosed areas - not only is it illegal, but it's also cruel
- To avoid the potential for motion sickness, do not feed or give your pet water immediately before moving
- Bring along items that are familiar and comforting to provide a safe and stress free environment
- Take plenty of breaks along the way so that your pet may relieve themselves and de-stress from all the chaos
Travelling by plane
After your pet has been approved to fly by your veterinarian and been given a health certificate proving it's safe for the animal to do so, it's important to follow these simple tips to reduce the stress on your four-legged friend during air travel.
- Ask for your airline's rules and guidelines for travelling with your pet
- Buy them an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved carrier to save time during the check-in and security process
- Get them adjusted to this carrier several weeks in advance, especially if it's new
- Don't forget to bring your pet's vaccination records and health certificate with you
- Pets travelling on the plane with you should be boarded as close to your flight as possible
- Bring pets being stowed in the hold earlier as they need to rest and get acclimated
- Make sure you walk your pet before you leave for the airport and again before check-in
TIP: Book a direct flight and call to see if your airline has counter-to-counter service. This service will ensure that an airline employee will personally load and unload your pet versus them get loaded en masse with the luggage.
Moving small animals
Small animals like lizards, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, rabbits and snakes are a much easier affair and are able to be transported directly in their tank or cage.
When moving smaller animals, clean their cage and check that they have enough food and water before moving them in a temperature controlled environment like your car.
TIP: Concerned about your pet's stress level? Drape their cage or tank with a towel or blanket to minimize distractions.
After your move
Once you've successfully moved your pet, it's time to begin getting them settled in their new home.
Follow these tips and in no time at all your companion will be thinking of your new location as home
- Designate a room that is solely theirs (for the time being at least) and fill it with toys and treats from your old home to make the transition easier
- Allow them to explore or hide depending on the requirements of your pet
- Keep all hazardous or dangerous items out of reach as you unpack
- Find a new veterinarian in your area