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Moving with Pets

By Sarah Clark, Certified Self Storage Manager

Moving can be an incredible difficult task. But when you have pets to move as well, the process can seem practically impossible. Between picking the best home for your pet to the big day, moving with pets can be a stressful time. Some pets like dogs can become very anxious during the moving process and that can lead to long-term damage. There are numerous precautions you can take to avoid potential stress and anxiety for your pet, and help them have a less stressful move.

First step when looking for your new home is to keep your pets in mind. If you will be renting, be sure to verify with the landlord or leasing company that they allow pets – and that they allow your pets. Some places have rules against certain breeds of dogs, the number of pets you can have, or only allow small pets like fish. This can be true for some townships as well. In those cases, the fact that you will own your new home is irrelevant if your breed of pet is not permitted in the neighborhood.

If you have cats and birds, look for a new place with higher ceilings for them to climb and fly. Medium and large dogs need a big open yard to play and run around. If you’re looking for an apartment, research if there are parks in the area where you can walk and play with your dog. For more exotic pets like snakes and turtles, keep in mind their environmental needs. For example, some reptiles need a humidity regulated environment and choosing a new home without central air may not be the ideal living situation due to the possibility of inconsistent humidity levels. For smaller pets like ferrets, rabbits and turtles, look for places in your potential new home that your pet could crawl in and get trapped, like air vents and crawl spaces. If you find any problem areas, get them fixed before your pet arrives in the new home.

Check the security of the windows and doors to prevent the possibility of your pet escaping. Make sure they all close completely and that there are no gaps large enough for your pet to squeeze through. Check every door and window just to be sure.

Also, if you are buying or renting a home that had a previous owner, check for any pest control devices that may have been left behind such as bait traps or traditional mouse traps. If your pet gets into those, they can become hurt or very sick, and some pest control is fatal to house pets. Be diligent and thoroughly check the entire house.

After you have chosen your dream home and you are planning for the big move, the next step when moving with a pet is preparation. Here are some great tips to keep in mind:

  • Begin by packing an easily accessible “pet” bag or box which includes plenty of food, cat litter, treats, bowls for food and water, bottled water, a towel for accidents, toys and grooming items. If your pet takes medication, keep that in this bag as well. Have all the proper licenses and tags on your pet’s collar or in container in this bag or box. If moving long distances, make sure to pack enough of these items to get you through one or several nights of travel.
  • Another step in preparing your pet for moving is to contact their vet. Update them with your new address or obtain your pet’s records if you plan on switching vet offices when moving to a new area. If you need a new vet, your current vet may be able to recommend qualified ones in your new town.
  • If your pet is not typically accustomed to being in a crate or kennel, gradually start crating them for short periods of time prior to moving to get them use to it. You should start this weeks or months in advance so they are comfortable by moving day. For cats, an easy way to introduce them to a crate is to leave the crate open and place a blanket and some toys inside. This will help your cat get familiar with the crate in a positive way, and they will likely go inside to explore on their own. If your pet is hesitant to go into the create, or they are very anxious after being inside, start by crating them in the same room you are in, or in your bedroom at night. This will give them added comfort to know they are safe and everything will be ok.
  • If your pet in unfamiliar with car rides, begin taking them on short car rides prior to moving. Start by going out for 5 minutes, then 10, and so on. If you will be driving for hours when you move, try to get up to at least one full hour with your pet in the car before moving day. And if your pet gets car sick, have medication to ease that issue on hand. Talk to your vet about this if you need assistance.
  • Packing up your old home slowly throughout the upcoming weeks before your move will help relieve any potential stress that could be caused if you moved all at once. This is true for you as well as your pet. Make sure to keep several of your pet’s favorite toys out until moving day. You can even keep their favorite blanket or bed, or one of your sweatshirts for added comfort.
  • If you have access to your new home early and you live close enough, gradually move some items in during the weeks leading up to the move. Have a room set up just for your pet that has several of their favorite toys and a blanket or bed. You want them to instantly feel safe in the new home, and having familiar items ready will surely help. Plus, you can place them in this room with some food and water, and their favorite items, and close the door to keep them safe while you move everything into your new home. Check in on your pet often to make sure they are adjusting, and just to give them some love and cuddles.
  • Double check your state’s moving regulations when it comes to moving your pet. For example, in Pennsylvania, a dog must have a CVI or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to prevent the spread of rabies. You can visit this website to check your own state’s regulations, or do some research on your state’s official website.

On moving day, you want to keep your pet as stress-free as possible. Having that separate room away from all the craziness of moving boxes and furniture as mentioned above is essential. You can do this at your current home and your new home if you are able. The more comfort you can provide for them the better. If you are having friends or movers help, place a sign on the door where you have your pet stating to keep the door closed. This will prevent your pet from running away or getting hurt. After you are all packed up and ready for the final move, securely place your pet’s crate or kennel in a well ventilated, temperature-controlled area of your vehicle. Never place any pets in the trunk! For birds or reptiles, be sure to place restraints around their tank or cage for safety. They can be sensitive to changes in light and temperature and by placing a thin blanket over their cage or tank, you can prevent them from becoming too stressed, and keep them warm. Plan stops along the way for your pet to use the restroom, stretch out or drink water, and just so you can check on them. Before letting them out of the vehicle, attach your pet to a leash to avoid them running away in an unfamiliar area. Never let your pet in a car unattended, especially on extremely hot or cold days. Not only is this illegal but it’s dangerous.

Betta Fish For tropical fish, you may need to consult a professional for specific instructions, or even hiring a professional mover who handles fish (yes, there are such people out there who do this for a living). If you can have a tank set up and ready to go at your new home, the move will go much smoother for them. You can then simply place them into the new tank upon arrival. If your fish need to maintain a certain temperature, you need to make sure you can keep the water within that range during travel. A temperature swing that is too great can easily be fatal for fish. You also need to keep in mind the oxygen level in the water. Keeping fish in a small bag will only be safe for a couple hours. If you are moving a far distance, you may want to find a new home for your fish rather than moving them. Just scooping them out of the tank is a very stressful event, so keep in mind how this move will affect them from start to finish. The last thing you want is for the move to end up with your tank of fish all dying in transit or shortly after you are settled.

Once you have arrived at your new home, your pet will be introduced to new sounds, smells, neighbors and possible environmental factors, so be patient while they get acclimated to all the new stimuli. Try your best to setup their bed and food/water bowl in a similar spot you had them in your previous house. This will make your pet feel at home. Birds should be placed in a separate room until they become familiar with the change in environment, as they are extremely sensitive to changes. Test your new home’s water for any changes in chemical concentrations such as chlorine, iron and calcium. This step is important for fish and reptiles whom reply heavily on a clean water supply. Keep in mind that moving can be a stressful change for your pets and to be patient over the next few weeks while they become adjusted to their new home.

If you need extra storage or supplies during your move, contact one of our knowledgeable property managers or stop in any of our rental offices that are fully stocked with all the packing and moving supplies you may need. Last minute moving? You can always rent a storage unit online 24/7 and get started right away!