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The Do's and Don'ts of Moving With Pets

Anyone who has ever moved with a pet knows it can be a stressful experience -- for both human and animal. Never fear, there are ways to make the whole event less chaotic for you and your furry friend! (or feathered, or finned...)

As a former military wife, I have moved more times than I can count on both hands, and we have always had pets. We have moved by air and by car, and with cats, dogs and fish. We have had moves that went smoothly with no major trauma, and others that, well, weren't quite so stress-free. Here are my top do's and don'ts for moving with pets to make the experience as pleasant as it can be ... from someone who learned the hard way!

Moving With Pets Do's

Plan ahead. Even if you're just moving across town, finding out at the last minute that you have to carry Fluffy in the car because no one planned for a box or kennel will leave you filled with regret -- and covered with claw marks.

Trust me on that...

  • Make the move stress-free on your pet. Emotions tend to be high when moving, so if Spot pees on the floor of the car, cut him some slack. If you haven't packed cleaning supplies for just such an emergency, refer back to the tip about planning ahead.

  • You might want to have them stay at a neighbors during the packing and loading to keep them from the line of fire. Or at least put them in a kennel while the movers do their thing.

  • Give your animal water often. Also, plan for breaks to let them get a little fresh air. It will be easier for everyone to take that extra time.

  • Let your pet get used to its new home in its own time. If your furry friend wants to hide under the sofa for three days, it's cool. The neighbors will all get a chance to meet the pets in due time, no matter how badly your kids want to show them off. Allowing them to acclimate to their new space will also help prevent lost or confused pets in a new neighborhood.

    Nothing's worse than letting a nervous calico out into a new neighborhood only to have it disappear trying to find its old home.

  • Try to keep the animals in the same routine as you did before the move to reassure them. If they took a walk just before bed or ate exactly at 10 a.m., make sure that happens for them during and after the move as well.

Moving With Pets Don'ts

  • Don't forget to call the airline if you are traveling by air -- in fact, call several weeks or even months in advance. Airlines have different policies on how pets can travel. If the airline wants to put Max in an unheated cargo hold and that's not OK with you, you'll know. Make educated choices about how your pets travel.

  • Don't discount the importance of visiting a veterinarian and asking for sedatives for your animal. It can make the difference between a simple move and a gut-wrenching odyssey. A vet can also help you with moving plans if you have more exotic pets that need special care.

  • Don't let anyone convince you they can move a 55-gallon fish tank in the moving van half-full of water and fish. Bad idea. Bag up your fish in plastic bags with water from their tank, and close with rubber bands. Leave the bag about half full of air, and pack them into a cheap Styrofoam cooler for the trip. If you don't want your expensive fish tank to leak or have cracks in it when you get to your new destination, make sure it travels empty. Ask me how I know.

  • Don't expect several animals to travel in a car together without being confined. Even though the cat and dog love each other and are familiar with each other, the excitement of the trip will have your car feeling like a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Get individual kennels for each animal.

  • Don't forget to give your animals some extra love during this time of adjustment. This is tougher on them than it is on you (though at the end of the move you might find that hard to believe). The whole reason you are having them move with you is they are important to your family.
    Just try to remember that when your car smells like cat litter, there is dog slobber on the baby, and no one can find the hamster.

Your Next Move:

Moving Your Cat
Moving Your Dog
Moving Your Fish
Choosing a Pet Carrier

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and http://www.TheGardenGlove.com.

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