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How can I make moving easier for my pet?

Moving to a new home probably is one of life’s most stressful events, but few owners stop to consider how a move affects their pets. Like people, pets are creatures of habit—the busyness of packing up, movers coming and going, and relocating to a new home definitely can cause anxiety. However, with careful planning before moving day, a potentially stressful situation can instead be exciting, as you and your pet adapt to your new home.

Have your pet microchipped

Pets have a natural instinct to navigate their way back home, so if your pet escapes from your new yard, she may try to return to her old home and end up lost. If she is not already microchipped, now is the time. Microchipping is a simple procedure that your veterinarian can perform without anesthesia during a routine hospital visit. A microchip is implanted under the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades and emits a radio frequency that can be detected by scanners used at veterinary clinics and shelters. After placement, you will register your information with the microchip database, so if your pet gets lost, you can be contacted for her safe return.

Also, have an identification tag made with your new address before you move and replace your pet’s old tag as soon as you relocate so you can be contacted immediately if she does get loose.

Acclimate your pet to her new home

Your new home will look and smell different, so it may take your pet a while to understand she will be staying for good. Start acclimating her to the new place as soon as possible. Once you can access your new home, take your pet there and allow her to sniff around the empty rooms, as well as the outside areas. Walk her around the neighborhood so she can explore the new sights, sounds, and smells.

You may be tempted to leave your pet relaxing at your old home while you are in the process of moving, but allowing her to be part of the activities may help her better understand the concept. Ensure she doesn’t dart outside by assigning a family member to hold her on a leash as you move in and out.

Explore new walking trails

Instead of your regular, predictable daily walk, your new neighborhood will provide opportunities for new paths, scenery, and socialization as you and your pet explore your new surroundings. Some cities provide maps of paved walking trails and routes through parks and pet-friendly areas or you can ask your new neighbors for recommendations. Always walk your pet on a leash and don’t explore new areas alone until you’re sure they are safe.

Locate new pet services

It can be difficult to find reputable, trustworthy replacements if you move so far that you have to give up your reliable groomer, pet sitter, or doggy day-care facility.  Start searching online for facilities near your new location before you move. Check Better Business Bureau listings, read pet owner reviews, and list the positives and negatives of each place to know your options. Then, head to the local dog park, or ask people for their insight. You should visit each facility to ensure it is clean, requires clients’ pets to be vaccinated, and is a place where you would feel comfortable leaving your pet.

Find a new veterinary hospital for your pet

Your trusted veterinary team also can be difficult to replace. Look for an AAHA-accredited hospital in your new location to ensure your pet continues to receive quality veterinary care. AAHA accreditation is awarded only to veterinary hospitals that provide the highest standards of care, and currently only 12% to 15% of animal hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have met these requirements. These hospitals voluntarily undergo rigorous evaluations by AAHA’s consultants, and you can trust any AAHA-accredited hospital to make your pet’s health its first priority.

You also should become familiar with the location of a nearby emergency hospital so you won’t waste precious time if your pet needs urgent after-hours help.