Written by Jennifer Brown, President of Verona Street Animal Society
When it comes to major life changes, considering how to help your pets through it should help reduce stress for both the human and the companion animal. Pets can sense when something is going on with you, whether it is excitement, frustration, sadness or stress. At times in each of our lives, we will have changes that impact how our pet perceives us or that may have a direct impact on their environment.
It is extremely important to keep yourself as even and unstressed as possible when you are planning a move. Your pet may display different behaviors such as whining, trembling, hiding, digging, following etc that are often times their reaction to what is going on inside you.
Even though big life changes (or change in general) can cause you to feel a bit overwhelmed or stressed, you should remind yourself that you aren’t the only one “feeling your feelings.”
Do everything you can to minimize your internal responses so that you can focus on making it a smooth transition for you and your pet.
When it comes to the actual physical move, there are ways to further help your pet out.
- Prior to moving day, make sure your pets are fitted with collars and ID tags with your name and current cell-phone number. Microchipping is also recommended and will serve as a backup if your pet loses its collar.
- If your pet is prone to car sickness, make sure you visit your veterinarian a few weeks prior to your move to get any prescribed medications and feeding recommendations.
- For long-distance moves, be sure to identify pet-friendly hotels along your route and reserve rooms ahead of time. For a list of pet-friendly hotels, see www.petswelcome.com or www.pet-friendly-hotels.net.
- On moving day, make sure your pets are secured in a crate or closed room of your house or apartment until you are ready to load them into your car. The activities and sounds of moving day will be frightening to your pets, so it is important that they be kept in a secure area to reduce their stress as much as possible and to prevent an accidental escape.
- Always transport cats, small dogs and other small animals in a secure, well-ventilated pet carrier. Keep larger dogs leashed and under control at all times. The stress of a move can cause even the most obedient dog to run away in unfamiliar surroundings. NEVER transport any pet in an open truck bed, trunk of a car or storage area of a moving van.
- For long-distance moves, make sure you give your pet potty breaks and fresh water whenever you stop for a break yourself. Make sure pets are leashed at all times during potty breaks.
By doing what you can to keep your own stress under control, you will be directly helping your pets deal with their ‘perceived’ assessment of the change. Then by taking additional further steps to keep your pets out of the moving experience and safeguarded, you ensure that all of you arrive at your new home in a happy and healthy way.
Jennifer Brown, President VSAS