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Rebecca Desfosse @RebeccaDesfosse

Moving With Pets Checklist

Use this week-by-week checklist to minimize your pet's stress level -- and your own -- when moving.

Moving your family to a new home may be one of the most stressful events you ever have to tackle -- especially if there are pets involved. However, according to Dr. Danel Grimmett, co-owner and doctor of veterinary medicine at Sunset Veterinary Clinic, "Moving with pets doesn't need to be a huge hassle. A little planning ahead of time will help prevent stresses and messes during the moving period."

Here's a step-by-step moving checklist to help you plan for the big day:
 

  1. Two Months Before the Move
     
  • Assess your pet. According to Harrison Forbes, a celebrity pet expert, "The first thing you should do when moving with pets is to take an honest assessment of your pet and how they deal with stress." The worse your pet reacts, the more time you'll need to prepare him for the move. He recommends putting your pet in a crate or a quiet room for an hour or so each day, to get him used to the chaos of moving day well in advance.
     
  • Make travel reservations. If you're flying, contact your airline before booking your tickets to inquire about their travel policy for animals. "Your pet's size, time of year for travel and size of plane all play into the flight options available and associated fees," says Grimmet. If you're flying internationally, you may need to start making arrangements for additional protocols.
     
  1. One Month Before
     
  • Take your pet for a checkup. Visit the vet to get your pet a clean bill of health before moving. While you're there, make certain vaccines are up-to-date and get a full prescription of any medications.
     
  • Get a health certificate. "Anytime you move a pet over state lines, you are required to have a veterinary-issued health certificate which was completed less than 30 days prior to the move," says Dr. Grimmett. Contact your veterinarian to ask for the proper forms.
     
  • Talk about anxiety medications. If you anticipate that your pet will experience high anxiety during the move, your veterinarian may be able to provide you with medication to relieve his stress.

    Check out these tips on how to minimize your pet's stress level.
     
  1. Two Weeks Before

 

  • Make arrangements with a friend or hire a pet sitter. Your goal on moving day is to keep your pet as safe as possible, so make alternate arrangements for when the movers are present. According to Forbes, "Boarding your pet isn't nearly as stressful as the move itself."
     
  1. One Week Before
     
  • Inspect your pet carrier. Dr. Grimmett recommends ensuring that all the locking mechanisms in your pet carrier are in good condition, so your pet can't escape mid-move.
     
  1. A Few Days Before
     
  • Don't forget to leave out your pet's food. Think about leaving out a few prepackaged meals for your pet, so you can pack some supplies and still have food at the ready.
     
  1. Moving Day
     
  • Keep your pet in a safe location. If you aren't leaving your pet with a friend or sitter, keep her safe in a crate or quiet room. "It's important to limit your pet's exposure to the chaos of moving to reduce her stress level," says Forbes.
     
  • Don't feed right before travel. According to Dr. Grimmett, it's best to hold off on your pet's meals a few hours before driving or flying to help head off nausea.
     
  1. After the Move
     
  • Re-create the old environment. According to Forbes, the first thing you should do is set up your pet's familiar things -- like his bed and food bowl -- to make the new house seem like home.
     
  • Take time to reconnect. Grimmet recommends spending time with your pet to let her know that everything is okay.
     
  • Keep a close eye on your pet. Forbes cautions that pets might not act like their old selves when first moving to a new home. Dogs may need to be re-housebroken. Outdoor pets should be kept indoors for the first week to acclimate to their new environment.
     
  • Find a new vet. "Once you arrive in your new home, I recommend you start interviewing new potential veterinarians as soon as the chaos dies down," says Dr. Grimmett. Talk to other pet owners in the BigTent communities for recommendations and to learn about things like the best dog parks or places to buy pet food.
     

For more moving tips, check out this Moving With Kids Checklist

Rebecca Desfosse is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and family topics.