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Moving with Pets Guide– How to Survive the Stress

Last Updated: Monday, September 7th, 2020

Having to move by yourself is stressful on its own but when you add another living creature to the equation, that you cannot even explain to what is happening, this is when things start to get nerve-wracking.

Cats cannot understand that you have a new job in another city so you have to move, or that your family is getting too big for the one-bedroom house that it grew in. This often results in a lot of panic on their side, from all the confusion and commotion, along with your own emotions and worries that can easily transfer to your pets and overwhelm them. 

So if you want to avoid all of this, you need to plan properly. In this article, we will share with you all the best tips on how to move with your pets without stressing them, or you, out. 

Pack your belongings room by room

Start the whole packing process gradually. Pets are extremely sensitive to a changing environment, cats, dogs and birds especially but also pets that are always in their aquariums. If you have pets that don’t really go outside of their enclosure like fish, reptiles, guinea pigs, etc., keep the room they are in for last. The idea is to leave their habitat and living conditions unchanged for the longest possible period so that they don’t feel the moving so intensely from the beginning. Try not to make too much noise and if there is no way to avoid it, make sure that they are away from that while it’s happening. 

A packing spree in the last minute will not only stress your pets but you as well, and it’s one of the most irrational things that you can do when you’re relocating. Most likely, everything will be extremely hectic because of all the movements, people and noise, and if you have a cat or a dog, it’s very possible that they decide to run away and flee from your property, which can be quite dangerous. 

If you decide to trust a professional cleaning company to do your end of lease cleaning, make sure that the pets are outside of the house during the service. 

Keep them away on the day of the moving

Even if you pack everything slowly and you go steadily room by room, the day to relocate your belongings and life eventually comes. There will be lots of furniture disassembling, people moving boxes with personal belongings, appliances and whatnot. A lot of fuss that is completely weird and inexplicable to your pets, no matter the species. However, they do deal with stress differently. Animals in enclosures can’t really go anywhere, so they will just hide in their caves or burrow in the substrate. Dogs and cats, on the other hand, can react in many different ways – hide, turn aggressive or if you have a very social dog – he might just get overly enthusiastic from all the people. 

In any case, we recommend that you keep the pets away from all that commotion. The best possible thing you can do is leave them with a friend of yours who lives relatively close so that they are away from the house on moving day

If you don’t have this as an option, lock them in the room that is the furthest away from all the action and make sure that no one opens it. Pack your pet’s belongings last in a bag you will keep close and once you have absolutely everything else loaded in the vans or whatever vehicle you will be using, then it’s time to bring the pets out and move them as well. 

Keep your pet safe while relocating 

It’s very important to keep a checklist with everything you need to ensure the safety of your pet. Of course, it depends on the species, but there are still some general things and items you will always need.

  • Documents and ID tags. Carefully check if you have everything and that nothing is left at the old location. The ID tags you can attach to a collar, if you have a dog or a cat, to the leg of your bird, or the plastic box for your reptile or amphibian. The tag should contain information about your pet’s name, your names and telephone number, as well as the destination for your travels. 
  • Pictures of your pet. In the unlikely scenario that your pet is lost, it’s better to have a picture of it close so that you can properly search for it. 
  • Collars and leashes for your cats and dogs so that you can control them. No matter if they are with the car or in the plane with you, there is always the chance for your pets to feel worried or uneasy, so it’s better to be safe and have a good harness or a collar that will restrict their movements. 
  • Pet carriers for dogs, cats. Find one that is big enough to fit them and will have enough space for them to stand up and feel comfortable. 
  • If you have a pet reptile with a big enclosure that needs to be relocated as well, you can put them in a plastic container with holes for air. Put the reptile in a cloth bag, like a pillowcase, and after that put them in the plastic box. It’s important to keep them in the dark, so they feel safe during the move
  • If you are travelling with fish keep in mind that they are probably one of the most fragile and sensitive animal species for travelling. Very often, relocation can be extremely traumatizing and lead to death. So if you’re travelling a short distance, make sure it’s not as fast as possible. The fish should be in a plastic bag that is filled with old water from their tank. However, if you’re moving far away and going by plane, for example, we recommend that you just rehome your fish to a person you trust and get new once at the other location. 
  • Guinea Pigs have very fragile hearts and are easily scared. Make sure that they have appropriate bedding in the pet carrier and the environment is warm and comfortable.

Travel safe 

Okay so the luggage is on its way and now the only thing left is to move yourself and your pet. Depending on your choice of travel, the preparations and the overall journey will be a very different experience. We don’t recommend that you relocate your pets with anything different than a plane or a car/van. Public transportation can be extremely stressful for the animal and you as well and if you have fish, reptiles, or guinea pigs, it’s just impossible to do it. 

So here is our advice on how to safely travel with your pets depending on whether you’re going by car or an aeroplane. 

Travelling with pets by car

This is probably the most secure way because you will be able to directly communicate and care for your pet during travel. If it’s not possible for the animal to be with you, secure the pet-carrier tightly in the back seat or the trunk of the car, van, whatever vehicle. Make sure there is no chance that something falls over the container in case of a sharp turn or a bump in the road. If it’s on the back seat, cover it with a blanket or something that will protect it from fur or scratches. 

For cats and dogs, we recommend that you limit the amount of food given to them shortly before the travel. You will probably have to make frequent stops during the trip so that they don’t do their business in the vehicle. 

For any other animals, it’s better not to give them any food at least a day before that, especially with snakes. Depending on the age of your scaly friend, you will have to wait a couple of days before you can move them outside the enclosure. 

Flying with pets

This is extremely specific and it depends on the airline you’re travelling with, as well as the distance. Some small dogs and cats are allowed to travel with you as long as they are in a cage that fits under the seat. Other airlines don’t allow pets at all unless they are a special needs dog. In any case, here are a couple of tips to make the whole journey a lot easier. 

  • Take your pet to the vet and take a certificate for a clean bill of health because it’s very likely that you will have to provide the security at the airport with one; 
  • If you are bringing the pet with you on board, make sure he has enough distractions that will keep him from panicking;  
  • All pets must travel in a container that has been approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA); 
  • Use plastic and steel mesh crates for short domestic flights and metal or wooden crates for bigger animals and longer distances. Make sure that your pet has enough space to stand up and lie down, if needed, as well as water for the whole trip. Put a waterproof mat on the bottom;
  • Get the animal used to the container before travelling. Especially if you have a dog or a cat, fill the pet carrier with familiar smells and create a cosy environment that will not scare them and make the whole journey a lot easier; 
  • Keep in mind that most pets will be transferred to the freight/cargo area for the duration of the flight. This does not mean that they will be treated as luggage. Airlines have special people who will take care of your pets during the flight; 
  • If you have birds or reptiles that need to travel, check with the airline. Some accept those animals as air cargo while others have different requirements. In any case, you will still need a permit and a certificate for a clean bill of health, no matter if you travel with the pet or you’re just shipping it; 
  • Some breeds of cats and dogs are not allowed on board of aircraft because of potential problems with breathing or a predisposition to aggression. This includes pug- or snub-nosed dogs and cats like Pugs, Shih Tzus, Bulldogs and Persian cats. Just in case, check with the airline before traveling. 

Settle your pet in the new property

So you finally arrived at the destination and it’s time to settle down. This last stage can also be quite stressful so make sure you prepare your new home before the pet arrives. For animals that do not live in enclosures and usually roam around freely, you can create a safe corner filled with things that are familiar to them – toys, blankets, pet beds, food and water. Give them time to settle in. If you usually let your cat go outside and roam the neighbourhood, restrain from doing so in the first couple of weeks at least. They have to get used to the house first so that they remember where they have to go back once they are done exploring. 

If you have pets with complicated enclosures like reptiles, amphibians, and birds, make sure that they are all assembled before you bring the pet in. Keep in mind that due to all the stress and changing environment, the animals might refuse to eat for some time. Wait for around 3,4 days maximum and if there are still problems, consult with a vet. Of course, for reptiles, you can wait a bit longer as they usually don’t eat for weeks.

If you are looking for moving help, our expert Sydney Removalists are sure to be able to offer assistance, contact us for a quote today.

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