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Preparing to Move Your Pets

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Pets are very special members of many families. Like their human friends, these animals have unique personalities and particular needs. During the course of their lives, they are likely to experience at least one relocation with their human masters but, unlike plants, you can't just pack your pet up and forget about it. Plan ahead to make their moves as stress-free as possible.

Moving with cats and dogs

Cats and dogs pose unique moving circumstances. Cats are naturally more attached to their surroundings than they are to people. Before relocating the animal, it needs to be acclimated to its surroundings.

  • Place the carrier out in the open several days before the move.
  • Place toys, treats, and other favorite items in the carrier to encourage the cat to explore and enjoy the box.
  • On the day of the move, repeat the process, this time gently closing the carrier door.
  • Avoid feeding the pet for several hours before the drive, and never leave the cat alone in the car for any period of time longer than thirty minutes. It is both cruel and illegal.
Dogs are much easier to move than cats. Stay on the same feeding and walking schedule before and after the move. If the new location is close enough, try bringing your dog there ahead of time, and let it walk around. Keep the pet on a leash at all times, and, immediately upon arrival at the new home, take the dog for a walk or allow it to roam around your new backyard. This will help acquaint the dog with its new environment. If walking the dog, immediately begin to teach it how close it may walk to the sidewalk or street. Encourage it with an upbeat vocal tone at all times.

On moving day, people are often going in and out of the house and leaving doors open. For both cats and dogs, prepare a single room with its toys, blankets, food and water bowls, and other possessions nearby on move-out day. Place a "No Entry" sign on the outside of the door to ensure that the door remains closed throughout the day. This closed environment protects the animal from running away.

If you must move by air, select a direct flight in order to minimize travel time. This will help ensure that your pets are uncomfortable for the shortest amount of time and will minimize their exposure to harsh outdoor conditions. Check for counter-to-counter services with the individual airlines to make sure your pet is carried on and off the plane by an airline employee, not with regular luggage. The service may be more expensive than other methods of transportation, but it can keep your pet calm and secure.

Moving with small animals

Other small animals, like hamsters, gerbils, mice, rabbits, birds, lizards, snakes, and tarantulas, can be carried in the car in a relatively normal manner. Make sure that the pet has a clean cage, enough food, and access to water. If you are afraid that your pet may become agitated during the move, cover the cage with a cloth to make the ride more comfortable. Avoid playing loud music or letting the car become too warm or too cold, as these fluctuations might cause great harm to such small creatures.

Moving with fish

Before moving your fish, check for water dissimilarities between your origin and your destination. Moving between city, well, and reservoir water can kill fish that might not be prepared for the varying mineral contents and chemical compositions between the waters. If possible, try to move the fish in their current tank with the same water. If not, move the fish in a bucket or bags filled with tank water. Buckets are preferred as they permit more air circulation. After the fish are ready to be transported, you may ship the tank, filters, décor, and other components (including extra water).

If you are going to be facing a long move, do not feed the fish for three days prior to the relocation process. This will help keep waste down while they are being transported and will keep the water from reaching toxic levels.

Upon arrival at the destination, set up the tank and add all décor and old water. Allow the water to reach room temperature and then float the bags of fish in the tank to help them acclimate to the temperature. Release the fish after fifteen minutes and then turn off the aquarium lights for an entire day.

On the second day, the newly-released fish will begin to enjoy their new habitat and will come to the top of the tank for food. You can then safely feed them using the same diet that they previously had at your old home. If the process seems too daunting, you can hire a specialty fish mover to take care of the entire relocation process for you.

Moving pets might be difficult, but you'll know that it's worth it when they are there with you in your new home. By being prepared ahead of time, you can reduce stress for your pets and yourself.

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on August 27, 2009

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