How to Help Your Pets Cope With Your Upcoming Move

If you've just closed the deal on your dream home, you're probably tingling with anticipation to settle into your new residence -- but are your pets as ready for the transition as you are? Even a simple local move can prove unsettling, confusing, frightening or downright dangerous for your beloved companions if you just throw them into their new abode. To muddy the waters further, some pets have specific issues that must be dealt with before, during and after a move. Here are some strategies for addressing those special needs.


Cats can have more anxiety issues than dogs when it comes to relocating. While dogs tend to experience a variety of indoor and outdoor environments from a young age, cats tend to spend all their time in the security and comfort of the home -- so when they're suddenly yanked out of that home and transplanted to another one, they can exhibit signs of serious stress such as failure to eat, pacing, spraying, constant distressed-sounding meows and inappropriate elimination (although the latter may be partly a matter of getting used to the new litter box location). Cats don't like noise or chaos, so a having a team of movers invading your home can upset them. Your cat may also go into hiding for several days once you've moved into your new abode.

To help your cat cope, prepare a sealed-off room in the home for him, complete with a carrier, food, water and his or her favorite toys. Make sure the local moving companies know not to go into this room. Transport your cat (in his or her carrier) in the air-conditioned comfort of your own vehicle. When you move into the new place, rub your feline friend's face with a cloth and then transfer his or her scent to various parts of the house so your cat will feel at home.

Senior Dogs

Senior dogs can struggle with a variety of health problems that complicate the moving process. Many dogs, for instance, are prone to osteoarthritis, painful joint conditions like hip dysplasia, deafness, dementia and cataracts. These age-related disorders can make it extremely hard for them to duck out of harm's way (or even recognize the harm at all) in the hustle and bustle of your move. But confining your furry friend to a standard pet carrier for the entire move can be painful and traumatic for an arthritic or confused animal.

Fortunately, some smart planning can help your senior dog manage the move more easily. If your dog is easily disoriented and upset by all the activity, the safest bet overall is to schedule boarding at a veterinary clinic that offers that service during moving day. This not only keeps your elderly dog away from all the activity, but it also ensures that he or she is being looked after by professionals who can spring into action if a sudden medical need arises in your absence. Your canine friend will also have more room to stretch out his or her stiff joints than any carrier could provide.

Exotic Animals

Fish, lizards, birds and other exotic animals add an extra degree of difficulty to any move, primarily because their environmental needs are so specific. For instance, there's no getting around the fact that fish have to be transported, not only in water, but in the very water they're used to swimming in. Birds are both physically and emotionally fragile while lizards, such as iguanas, have to be kept reasonably warm. But these challenges can be met more easily than you might think as long as you think them through in advance. For example:

  • You can transport your bird in his regular cage to help him feel more relaxed with plenty of "pit stops" for food, water and reassuring words en route.
  • Since local moving services pack and transport fish tanks after they're drained, simply move your fish (and their aquarium water) into plastic bags for transit.
  • A plastic tub drilled with air holes will suit an iguana just fine. If there's a chill in the air, use the car's heater to maintain a comfortable temperature for your iguana.

Some pets are more of a handful than others, especially when you're relocating with a variety of different species in tow. Take these tips to heart and your animals will make it through your move with flying colors! You may also want to consider asking a local moving company, such as Walsh Moving & Storage, if they have any tips for moving pets.