Moving With Cats and Dogs: The 7 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

A home move is a sure-fire way to bring up a mix of emotions not just for humans, but cats and dogs as well. Moving introduces lots of exciting new experiences, smells, sights, and sounds. However, on the other hand, it also threatens to shake up your pet’s daily routine, take away their home comforts, and let’s be honest, some of those unfamiliar sounds can be pretty scary. 

Luckily, by avoiding these 7 common mistakes, you can make your move a positive experience for both you and your pet.

1. Letting Them Roam on Moving Day

With all your home’s belongings disappearing, people moving all about, and the door constantly opening and closing, moving day can be a recipe for a furry tripping hazard or a runaway pet. 

According to Oz Moving, it is best if your pet is out of the house or in a secure location during the move to keep the pet, the movers, and your possessions safe.

Ideas for pet accommodations on moving day include: 

  • Sending them to a friend or family for the day.
  • Booking them a day at the kennel or pet spa.
  • Putting them in a room that will get packed up last. Be sure to leave them their food, water, litterbox, toys, and bed. Dogs will also need to be let out periodically for bathroom breaks. 
  • In their crate. Best for dogs that are already crate trained. 

2. Hiding Their Carrier

Speaking of crates, just the sight of the cat carrier may make Fluffy run for the hills. But stashing it away until the day of the move isn’t helping. If you are using a crate or carrier to transport your dog or cat during the move, then give them time to get used to it. 

A few weeks before your move, try leaving your pet’s carrier out in the open where it can be explored and sniffed at their leisure. Once in a while, you can even try putting a few treats in it. This small act can help your pet associate their carrier with a positive experience.

3. Skipping the Vet Visit

Know what your pet probably dislikes more than moving? The vet. But booking one last appointment before you hit the road for a long-distance move is essential. 

During this visit, you will not only want to confirm your pet is in good physical health to travel, but you will also want to:

  • Update them on their vaccines. Even if you are simply crossing through another state, you may not be granted entry if your pet isn’t up-to-date.
  • Obtain a certificate of health. Needed for the same reason as above.
  • Get a copy of your pet’s medical records for the new veterinarian.
  • Discuss the move to see if any anxiety medication or travel aids are recommended. 

4. Forgetting to Update Their Info

If your pet does decide to try to run or gets lost on your journey, you want to have your bases covered. Before the move, get a new tag for their collar with their new information to swap out on moving day.

You will also want to update the information attached to their microchip if they have one. This can usually be done through the US Pet Chip Registry

5. Washing Their Belongings

A new home feels like a fresh start,  so naturally you want everything to feel fresh and clean. However, it is best if you keep your pet’s blankets and soft toys away from the washing machine—at least for a little while. Their belongings hold the familiar scents of your old home, which can go a long way in comforting them and helping to ease their anxiety during this big transition. 

Don’t worry. Once they are settled in you will be able to throw that drool covered chew toy in the wash! But leave it be for the first few weeks while settling into the new home.

6. Pushing Their Routine Aside

With all the tasks associated with moving, it is common for a pet’s routine to become less rigid. After all, juggling all the tasks that come with a move takes a lot of time and energy. 

However, during this time of change try to follow your pet’s regular routine as much as possible, especially once you are in your new home. Routine is like a security blanket to pets—it brings them a lot of comfort when they know what is coming next. 

7. Expecting Them to Adapt Instantly

There are tons of unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds that come with a new home, so thinking your furry friends will feel at ease instantly is a little unrealistic. It takes time to adapt to their new surroundings and they will probably experience some anxiety during the first few weeks of being in their new home. Some pets certainly seem to adapt faster than others, but almost none settle in instantly. 

Want to give them a boost in the right direction? Here is what you can do.

  • Consider pheromone mimicking calming aids. You can get these in the form of a collar or diffuser. Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats are two popular choices. 
  • Be patient with your dog on walks. All those fire hydrants and lawns are new, and your pup will probably need to smell all of them. 
  • Create a safe space for your cat. Often it is best to place them in a single room for a couple of days with all their needs and toys when you first move in. Then open the door during the day to let them explore and gradually adjust to their new surroundings.
  • Give them lots of attention and playtime.

And finally, if we were to give one more tidbit of advice, try not to stress. We know that moving can be an overwhelming experience, but both cats and dogs are experts at picking up on emotions—that means that if you have anxiety, chances are they do, too. If you can manage to get through your move with a positive attitude, then you are your furry friends will be happily settled into your new home in no time.

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