The stress of a move starts early, and not just for you. Pets can begin to feel the effects when the boxes and packing peanuts first appear.
“It’s no different whether you have two legs or four—what’s new provides some anxiety,” says Joe Alcorn, DVM, from Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California.
That stress only accelerates for pets as the move marches on. Once everything is packed, cats and dogs have to deal with the mayhem of moving day, along with the uneasiness that accompanies settling into a new space.
We spoke to veterinarians to get tips on the best ways to help your pets navigate a move.
Before Your Move
Relocating furniture, packing boxes, shuffling items from one area in your home to another—the constant change is challenging for cats and dogs. These tasks will help line you up for a successful move and reduce the impact on your pet before the big day.
Anyone who’s moved knows it’s not typically a relaxing process. Still, do your best to stay even-keeled since pets sense what you feel, says Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinary consultant for doglab.com, a pet gear review site. “If you are stressed with the move, your pet may also be stressed,” she says.
Go to the vet.
If you’re moving too far to continue seeing your current vet, set up an appointment to visit one last time. The timing of this visit will depend on your specific situation, says Christine Long, DVM, head of veterinary medicine at Modern Animal in Los Angeles. International moves in particular can require visits and paperwork in advance, so she recommends reaching out to your vet at least two months beforehand.
At your appointment, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, and stock up on any existing medications. “Also, discuss where you’ll be moving with your veterinarian, since infectious disease threats differ across the country, and your pet may need to be protected against a disease that isn’t a concern in your current home,” Long says.
If you will be flying, she recommends contacting your airline to ensure that you understand the requirements for flying with a pet, as they differ from company to company. Health certificates or other paperwork may be necessary, says Alcorn, so call your airline before the vet visit.