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Moving Pets into a New House

Before you pack up, consider these tips for keeping your dog or cat happy and healthy during the new-home shuffle.
Martha Stewart Living, August 2012

Almost every time I walk my dog -- an exuberant, medium-size mixed breed named Quimby -- someone says, "Aw! Puppy!" And I say, "Yep!" wondering how they didn't notice her white whiskers. Quimby is actually about 10. In her many dog decades with us, the vernal pup has moved three times, and I'm sorry to admit that each move has been less successful than the one before it.

Rewind to the last time: Having two kids under the age of 3 extended the packing process to about a year (a dog year, that is). We were moving only about a mile -- getting there was literally a walk in the park. But once we arrived at the new apartment, Quimby shed three pounds of hair, sniffed around frantically, refused to eat for a few days, and then camped out on the floor in a ray of sunshine, growling quietly at the dogs upstairs and doing everything in her doggy power to convey the message, "Please, let's not do that again." Quimby's sulking made me realize that we needed a refresher course on moving with a pet.

Planning Ahead

According to pet expert and author Sandy Robins, the first thing you should do is update your pet's tags and microchips. Unfortunately, Quimby's microchip still thinks she's a farm stray in Iowa. Whoops.

Next, you should stow all your pet's dishes, food, blankets, and toys in a box marked "Unpack First." Keep track of that box, and move it yourself. We packed all of Quimby's stuff together and labeled the box "Gold Star!" But then we forgot to actually set the box aside, so the movers stacked it in the center of a labyrinth of identical boxes in our new living room.

Getting There

If you're planning a big move, try taking your pet on short trips in the same vehicles and carriers you will use on moving day. Should your move involve a car trip, be sure to make frequent stops to let your dog run around and urinate in exotic, exciting places -- for dogs, this is the joy of travel! And even though it looks cute when your pet sits in the passenger seat like a furry human, keep dogs and cats safe while you're driving by confining them to a crate or a carrier.

Settling In

Make a comfortable spot for your pet right away. It's important to provide tons of reassurance to your sweet creature, whom you love but whose brain is the size of a walnut and thus can't really understand what's happened to its comfortable little life. A plug-in synthetic pheromone diffuser (such as those manufactured by Ceva, available at wag.com) can provide comfort to cats and dogs in stressful situations.

Thankfully, after a few weeks, Quimby was back to her ageless ways. I just wish we had thought harder about how to keep her happy during the move. Next time. (Dear Lord, I never want to move again.)

In With the New

While slobbered-on stuff is safe and familiar, a few new items can help your pet adjust during and after a move.

Not-So-Secret Identity

Put your new address on a handmade triple-layered ID tag.
Custom pet ID tag
, $19.50, etsy.com/shop/thecopperpoppy.

Playing Cat and Mouse

A 12-pack of catnip-filled toys will have Kitty purring in no time.
Cat toys, by Martha Stewart Pets, in Natural, $10, petsmart.com.

For the Furry Jet-Setter

This carrier is airline approved and lightweight.
Argo Pet Avion carrier
, $79, teafco.com.

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Comments (3)

  • jacksonn 7 Apr, 2013

    Moving with your dog is really important. Thanks for great tips. Dogs need special care. You should train them and give them healthy food. There is many homemade food recipes here please don't give them commercial food.

  • megiemaus 15 Mar, 2013

    I purchased the Argo carrier for my cross-country move last year and it worked perfectly. The cat seemed to like it as much as could be expected and no one even knew it was a carrier (except the flight attendants since we declared our cat). Now every time I take him to the vet, the vets are always really impressed by my carrier. Definitely a good suggestion. Finding a carrier that fits FDA regulations is tough, and these are the most stylish ones around.

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