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How to Successfully and Humanely Move Your Pets

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Your pets are more than just the animals that beg at the table, greet you at the door after a long day at work, or beg to be walked every few hours; they’re family. Moving them can be as stressful for them as it is for you.  Previously we have written about what you can do to reduce stress while moving and settling into a new home – in this article we will focus  on doing the same for your “fur children”. In order to combat the moving day jitters for both of you, consider these helpful tips to relocation your pet humanely and safely.

First and foremost, pay a visit to your vet to ensure that your pet is capable of being transported health-wise. If you have an older dog or cat, added stress and panic may cause neurosis or even a seizure. If this is the case, find an alternative where they can stay with you at all times.

Make sure they are fitted with proper identification, collars – and if applicable, a microchip implant. It’s not for everyone, but it can help exponentially should your pet be unfortunately lost during an international move, or escape from their crate.

Sometimes your move constitutes a difficult, long distance commute from address to address, and pet relocation can often be trickier than throwing them in the car and driving a few blocks.

They’ll know if you aren’t around – and should you have them transported by a stranger – the additional stress of being confined to a crate or kennel for a long period of time can spook them, and make them want to run and flee the scene looking for you. If at all possible, travel with your pet in the car. They’ll react more favourably to a familiar space and with you present.

If your pets aren’t used to car travel, like many cats for instance, get them prepared for your moving journey by taking them out around the block a few times prior to the big day. This familiarisation period may help them to undergo the move with a calm state-of-mind. If you’ve tried a few times to no avail, your vet may also be able to make helpful suggestions that can make them more comfortable during travel. They may be able to prescribe a low-risk medication or special foods to help make their trip easier.

Further, refrain from transporting your pets in the back of a pick-up, and try to confine them to the backseat, so you’re not trying to calm a giddy puppy from bouncing all over the dash while you’re driving. Ensure your pets are well secured, either by way of a travel crate or kennel. This includes while you’re moving as well. They may become startled by the additional people and noise associated with the move. Set them up in a room with a few of their favourite things, water and food, and a comfy spot to lay down. Be sure to tell your movers there’s an animal in a specific room so they don’t accidentally let them out.

If your animals must be transported with your movers, give the animal a chance to meet them and become comfortable in their presence. If it’s possible, allow your team of movers to play with them in the yard for 20 minutes so there is at least some form of a bond made between them and your pet – chances are they won’t mind playing with a pup or offering a behind-the-ear scratch to your cat. Ask that they make the odd pit-stop to let them out on a leash for a pee-break and some fresh air if the move is a great distance. Ensure they are placed in a well-ventilated area, and have plenty of access to fresh water and food.

Should your move require transport by air, contact your airline and research their specific airline regulations. Most airlines have this information easily accessible online, for example, here are Air Canada’s Pet Travel guidelines. There may be a required amount of quarantine time, health specific information, and other documentation like vaccination records, health certificates, or border inspection documents – this is especially important if you happen to be moving across international borders.

Moving a long distance means you’ll likely be searching for lodging on the road to lay your head for some R&R. Search out and make reservations at pet-friendly accommodations prior to setting out so you’re able to bring your pets in your motel or hotel room with you. For a comprehensive list of pet-friendly hotels, consider checking petswelcome.com, or pet-friendly-hotels.net.

If this is the case, PETA suggests asking your new country’s consulate the following questions:

  • Are there any restrictions for importing companion animals into the country?
  • Which documents will I be required to present?
  • Are there age restrictions for my pets?
  • Are any special vaccinations or tests required other than rabies?
  • Are there specific country restrictions or bans on specific breeds?
  • Are there special quarantine requirements?
  • How will I be sure my animal clears customs?
  • Do I need to be present in order for my animal to clear customs?

When it comes time to settle your pet into its new home, place your cat in a safe room until things settle down. There’s going to be an inevitable adjustment period for any animal, but cats have a tendency to need a longer time. Inspect your new home for any potential hiding spots or escape routes so you can keep tabs on Tabby. If you have an outdoor cat, moving is a good time to consider transitioning them into being an indoor cat. For any pet, make sure to update contact information and animal registration with your new hometown.

Finally, pay a visit to a new vet in your new town to begin a working relationship and check-in on your pet’s post-move health.

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