Few events in life can be as stressful as moving. Add pets into the mix, and everyone’s blood pressure, including your dog’s or cat’s, will most likely rise. Pets can easily get stressed out when there’s unexpected activity in their home or when they’re introduced to a new environment – needless to say, packing them up can be tricky. As soon as you decide to relocate, you should carefully consider how you’ll transport your four-legged family members to your new home.

Before the Move

When looking at new homes, it’s important to consider if the space is appropriate for your pet. Will your senior Labrador Retriever be able to handle the stairs of a third-floor walk up? You might not need a yard, but is your Border Collie prepared to give it up?

Find your Inner Zen

As you pack your home, keep in mind that pets (especially cats) are wary of change in their environments. To help ease the transition, bring the moving boxes in early and let them get accustomed to the packing supplies. Leave one room mostly intact until the last minute so your pets can have a familiar “safe space” to escape the moving chaos. Dogs and cats know a lot about their owners and pay attention to when they are stressed out. If you mislabel a box while packing and throw a fit, your energy will more than likely add to your pet’s anxiety. Set an example by staying calm, cool and collected.

Find a New Vet

Find a veterinarian in your new town, and have your pet’s medical records transferred over. In addition to your primary care practice, identify a 24-hour emergency centre before arriving. Should your pet suffer trauma or a health complication while moving, you don’t want to waste time looking for the nearest facility.

Keep the Routine

Packing in one day is bound to make your pet anxious. Spread out the packing over several days and make sure to keep your regular feeding and walk times the same.

Moving Day

While you’re packing up your house, consider sending your pets away. The flurry of activity could cause them to get worked up, or even panic and escape out the front door. Consider dropping them off at a doggy day care or let a supportive relative or friend take them for the day.

To Drive or Fly? Which is Best?

The answer to this question comes down to distance. If your new home is within driving distance, transport your pets in a kennel by car or buckle them up with pet seatbelts. Long distance moves, especially international trips, may require a flight.

Flying 101

It’s not as simple as just showing up at the airport with your pet. Rules and regulations for flying pets vary by airline. However, on most commercial flights, small dogs and cats are permitted to ride in a carrier under your seat. A fee from $100 to $150 one way is typically required.

If your pets are flying in cargo, it is best to transport them during the fall or spring. Many airlines, including American Airlines, will not transport pets if any stop in your journey is colder than 45 degrees or warmer than 85 degrees.

Every airline will require documentation from your veterinarian assuring that your pet is healthy enough to fly, so make an appointment to have your pet examined and brought up to date on vaccinations as soon as possible.

Inside the crate, provide your pet with comfortable bedding, favourite toys, and fresh water, which should be accessible at all times. On the outside of the crate, tape a plastic packet that contains copies of your pet’s medical records and airline documentation as well as your contact info, and a picture of your pet. In large lettering, ensure the crate is marked with the words “Live Animal.”

d Driving 101

Driving with your pet will require extra stops along the way for bathroom breaks and may add a few hours to your journey. You may need a few extras for the trip, like a restraint harness (a seatbelt for your pet), portable toys, a no-spill water bowl and a seat cover to protect your car upholstery.

Many hotels do not allow dogs, while those that do are likely to charge a pet cleaning fee. The site TripsWithPets.com offers a route planner that marks pet-friendly stops.

Acclimate to a New Home

You may feel relieved when you arrive at your home, but for your pets, it is a whole new world. There are sights, smells and sounds to discover. Unpack their belongings first and set them in an area of your home that can be all theirs. If your new house has a yard, make sure the fence is secure and levelled at an appropriate height to contain your pup. New environments can be stressful for animals even if your laidback Lab doesn’t have a history of escaping, an unfamiliar noise could send him running for the hills. When on walks, be extra vigilant as your pet slowly adjusts to new people, pets, smells, and sounds of the neighbourhood.

The bottom line? While moving with pets can be complicated, with proper planning, you can ensure that the entire family arrives to your new home sweet home safe and sound.