Switching homes can impact the whole household – four-legged members included.

In fact, 15 percent of Americans said that they, or someone they know, has considered moving because their current area wasn’t pet friendly, according to a recent survey by SpareFoot.

Respondents in Los Angeles had the highest number of people who’ve moved because they wanted to live in a more pet-friendly area—a total of 18 percent.

To reduce anxiety levels in your furry friends, consider taking the process step by step.

“The more you do to decrease their stress, the faster and easier they will adjust,” noted Kelly Meister-Yetter, author of Crazy Critter Lady.

Follow these strategies to get your pet ready for moving day, and acclimated to a new environment.

1. Get the Right Identification.

“Be certain that any required license tags are secured properly and the contact information is current,” advised Will Featherstone, founder and owner of Featherstone & Co. of Keller Williams Excellence, a real estate team located in Baltimore, MD.

If your pet’s ID tags are out of date, be sure to update them with a current phone number and your new address. You’ll likely need a new rabies tag if you move to a new county or city. It is also wise to keep a copy of their health certificate handy in case you need to unexpectedly board them or they need to go to the vet.

Make sure you have a recent picture of your dog with you as well.

“If your pet is lost during the move, a photograph will make it much easier to search effectively,” said Featherstone.

If you’re prepping for an international move, check that your pet has all the vaccines and documentation needed for the next country.

Fizzgig is ready to move.
Fizzgig is ready to move. Photo courtesy Rachel and Kyla Sentes.

 2. Prep Records and Medications.

For moves that will require switching veterinarians, get a copy of the pet’s health certificate and vaccine history, suggested Meister-Yetter.

Also consider a final check-up with your current vet.

If your animal needs a prescription, “make sure the supply of current medications will last until a veterinarian in your new location can be found to provide refills,” Featherstone said.

3. Visit the Next Home Ahead of Time

Moving somewhere close to your current home?

“Take your pets to the new place that you will be moving into and spend time with them there,” suggested Rachel Sentes, CEO of gal-friday publicity, who has moved several times with pets.

“They should get to know the place a little and have your smells there so it’s not completely a surprise for them,” Sentes said.

If your new house is a long distance away this might not be an option. Just be prepared to give your pet time to adjust to the new surroundings by making sure you remember to pack his or her favorite toy.

Lucy takes a break. Photo courtesy Rachel and Kyla Sentes
Lucy takes a break. Photo courtesy Rachel and Kyla Sentes

4. Make Trip Arrangements.

If your pet will be traveling on an airline or internationally research airline pet policies and practices, suggests Kyla Sentes, founder of Dog Hair INCluded.

“They are not all created equal even if their stated policies are the same,” Kyla Sentes said.

Ask about boarding practices for pet owners.

“Most airlines are good about you waiting with your pet until the last minute possible to board,” explained Kyla Sentes. “Be super nice and friendly with those transporting your dog – the more they see your relationship with your pet, the more willing they are to make you feel at ease.”

Man packing plates

5. Moving Over Land.

Moving companies will not handle transportation of your animal companion. However, there are pet transportation companies that can transport your pets to your new location for a fee. Pet travel services can be particularly helpful if you have a large number of pets to move, which can be a challenge if you are moving a long-distance away.

The best option is to transport your pets yourself if you are making a cross country road trip to your new home.

6. Settle Them In For Moving Day.

Before movers arrive, consider placing your pet in an area of the home, such as the bathroom, and shutting the door.

A plug-in pheromone for a dog or cat can help calm nerves.

“Don’t forget food, water, and litter box if applicable,” added Meister-Yetter.

Better yet, have a friend, relative or neighbor keep your pet at their place until the movers leave.

7. Take Precautions on the Trip.

If you’ll need to stay overnight in a place, use sites such as Pet-Friendly-Hotels and PetsWelcome.com to find hotels that accept pets.

Also keep routines as close as possible, noted Rachel Sentes.

“When I moved my two dogs on a 13-hour car ride, we stopped to walk them as per our usual schedule,” she said.

Be sure to keep your pets well fed and hydrated while on the road, and plan to stop for bathroom breaks. Provide a crate or carrier for your pet to give them a place to rest and to keep them constrained during the course of the trip.

8. Adjust Slowly.

“Try to get one room in the new home set up beforehand with familiar things: furniture, blankets, clothing – anything with your scent on it is preferable,” stated Meister-Yetter. “When you arrive with your pets, quarantine them in the room you set up beforehand, again using food, water, and a plug-in pheromone.”

It may take a few days for your animals to start eating and acting normally.

“Let them adjust in their own time, but make yourself available for extra cuddles and love,” advised Meister-Yetter.

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Rachel Hartman