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5 tips for making a move less stressful for your pet

A woman lying on a couch at home with her pet dog
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Moving is stressful enough, but for the furry members of our families, it can be confusing and even terrifying. Below is a checklist to help prepare your pet for the move and steps you can take to help your pet adjust to the transition.

Checklist for moving with pets

  • Retrieve vet medical records, refill prescriptions and update vaccinations for travel
  • Create a moving kit with a collapsible water bowl, bottled water, paper towels, a bed/blanket, first aid kit, and a favorite toy
  • Locate a veterinarian in your new town and set up appointments
  • Update ID tag and microchip

Additional checklist for dogs

  • Dog food and treats
  • Potty pads and waste bags
  • Collar and leash or harness
  • Crate

Additional checklist for cats

  • Cat food and treats
  • Carrier
  • Disposable litter box, litter, scoop, and waste bags

Tips to help pets with the transition

1. Keep up routines

Whether it’s mealtime or time for a treat, aim to continue feedings at the same time every day, so your pet feels less threatened by the changes happening around them. If you have a dog, do your best to maintain their normal schedule concerning walks, playtime, or going to the park. Exercise helps dogs burn off excess energy and stress, so they can better relax when it’s time for you to get back to packing.

2. Help them acclimate

It can be startling for pets to suddenly see the home overtaken by boxes and suitcases, so prepare for your move gradually, if you can. Bring a few boxes out at a time so your pet has the opportunity to check them out and get used to those new surroundings.

3. Create a safe place

When pets are stressed, they search for a safe place to stay until the danger’s passed. Any cozy bed or corner — my little terrier loves a little bed in the closet — away from the chaos of packing but can help your pet feel secure. On moving day, this safe place can help your pet cope with constant foot traffic.

4. Offer a distraction

During the crunch of packing and last-minute preparations, sometimes a distraction is best. Offer your pet a challenging toy or special treat to keep them occupied. (My dogs love Kong toys that we often stuff with peanut butter or another treat.) A pet sitter can also be a great help here if your pet needs much more attention and stimulation.

5. Consider an anti-anxiety medication

If your dog or cat is particularly stressed about moving or being in a new home, you might need to provide them with anti-anxiety medication or take other measures. Consult with your veterinarian about a prescription stress-reliever or CBD, which has proven especially helpful for many pet owners. Explore other solutions, such as a ThunderShirt, to help soothe them in the car or during their first few nights in a new place.

Written by
Lena Borrelli
Insurance Contributor
Lena Muhtadi Borrelli has several years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as allconnect, Healthline and Reviews.com. She previously worked for Morgan Stanley.
Edited by
Mortgage editor