Anyone who has ever moved knows that there are seemingly a million and one tasks to remember, from selecting a moving company to switching off utilities. All of the adjustments and changes involved in moving to a new home can be even more challenging when you have a pet. But there are ways to prepare to minimize the stress to your furred, feathered and finned friends.
The preparation process can be as crucial a stage as the move itself – familiar settings are disrupted as furniture gets moved and belongings packed away. A cat or dog will wonder who all these strangers are (potential buyers, inspectors, movers, etc.) and what's happening to the pet's familiar "territory" (changed location of litter boxes, favorite sleeping places, etc.) – which is how an animal sees your home.
For that reason, it's actually a good idea to change the "landscape" a little more – on the animal's behalf. Designate a room to remain just for your pet while the move proceeds around them, with their familiar toys, food and water bowls, sandbox (for cats), and so forth. This way they'll have a reassuring (if rearranged) space to spend the moving process in. It will also minimize the chance of escape by anxious animals while people are coming and going from your house more than usual, and reduce the danger of a scared cat hiding itself in the moving boxes with potentially tragic results.
Such precautions help calm your pet for the developments ahead – the move itself is stressful for pets and people alike, though this too can be minimized. If you're flying, check ahead to see which airlines allow pets as "carry-ons." The cargo bay is a possibility, but will isolate and possibly frighten your pet. In either case, anxiety and exposure to the elements will be lessened if you can book a direct flight.
If you drive, make sure you know where to find hotels that allow pets rather than leaving them in the vehicle (never a good idea in terms of safety or exposure to changing temperatures), and, especially with a dog, schedule frequent "rest stops" for both animal and owner. For birds, rodents and fish, "homes away from home" can work well – transport your bird or hamster in its cage, and your fish in a plastic container of water, roomy enough for the number of fish and changed regularly for long trips.
It's always a useful idea to consult a veterinarian for all the fine points, and a qualified real estate professional to help with all the questions a house-move poses; pet-compatible services are one of many matters a real estate sales associate can look into for you. With some advance planning and help from local experts, Fido's longest walk can have a happy destination.