A Vet’s Top Tips for Moving with a Dog

Moving is not a fun idea for anyone. From packing to organizing movers, there’s definitely a lot to think about. What if you own a dog? You will have even more to consider to ensure a successful move for you and your dog.

So how can you help your dog move safely? Below, I’ve shared my top 10 tips for moving with a dog.

1. Schedule a visit to the vet

Dog being held by a veterinarian during a visit to the vet

Photo courtesy: Public domain from Pixabay

When you’re already overloaded with preparing for your big move, taking your dog to the vet is probably the last thing on your mind. However, there are many reasons why a visit to the vet a few weeks before you leave is a good idea.

First, you will be able to get copies of important documents, such as your dog’s veterinary records and vaccination certificates, if you don’t already have them. This is especially important if you are moving away from your current vet.

During your stay, you can also ask your veterinarian to give your dog a physical exam and check that all of his preventive care is up to date. Your dog may need additional vaccinations or parasite prevention depending on changes in his lifestyle and the prevalence of disease in his new location. Crossing borders may require a current veterinary inspection certificate, which your veterinarian can also provide. This table made by AVMA is an excellent source of information regarding state requirements for veterinary inspection certificates.

Finally, going to the vet is worthwhile as you can seek expert advice on how to make the move as stress-free as possible for your dog. If you’re worried your dog may have trouble coping with the move (which can be a big deal for anxious dogs, older dogs, or those with health issues), your vet may be able to prescribe them a sedative or anti-anxiety medication.

2. Keep a routine

Dogs are perceptive, so they can sense when something is wrong. Since major changes can make a dog anxious or stressed, it’s a good idea to stick to their usual routine as much as possible. While it’s not always possible to walk or feed them at the same time as usual, doing your best to do so will help ease your dog’s anxiety about the impending move.

3. Help them desensitize to the move

Dog inside a moving box

Photo courtesy: Public domain from Pixabay

One of the reasons it’s so important to keep a routine is that no matter how hard you try, a lot of things will change around them. It can be very disturbing for dogs to suddenly see lots of new objects, like piles of cardboard boxes, hear lots of new sounds, and be surrounded by unusual smells, so try to desensitize them before the move. It doesn’t have to be complicated – maybe pack up a few boxes a week early and leave them outside to help them get used to what’s to come.

If your dog already seems extremely anxious, you might want to consider taking him to a dog sitter while you pack.

4. Train your dog well in advance

If your dog is already crated, more than half the battle is won. If not, it’s time for some crate training. Leaving this as a last-minute task (or even worse, putting your dog in a crate without training) isn’t smart because the process can take days or even weeks. A comfortable crate will help keep your dog safe and relaxed throughout the move.

5. Familiarize them with your new home

Dog on a walk outside on a trail in the neighborhood of their new home

Photo courtesy: Public domain from Pixabay

If you live near your destination, show your dog around before you move. Letting your dog see and smell their new home and neighborhood will go a long way to easing their anxiety when they move in.

6. Pack their things last

Pack your dog’s things last to allow him to follow his routine as long as possible before the big move. Even though it can be awkward to leave his things unpacked, your dog will thank you for it!

When it comes time to finally pack their things, be sure to pat them all in the clearly marked boxes. This way, you can easily unpack your dog’s things as soon as you get to your new home and you won’t have to waste time looking for what he needs.

7. Prepare Adequately for the Road Trip

Pug dog riding a car to his new home

Photo courtesy: Public domain from Pixabay

Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out the logistics of getting your dog safely from your old home to your new home. Spend time making sure everything is organized, from how you’ll get them from point A to point B, to what you’ll need to bring for them on the car ride.

Prepare a small bag with their favorite toys and some treats to comfort them during the journey. If you have to drive for several hours, you will also need to schedule water and potty breaks.

8. Update your dog’s ID tag and microchip

Dogs are notorious for getting lost in all the chaos associated with moving. Be sure to update your dog’s ID tags with your new address (and number if you change) before you move, and don’t forget to update your contact details with the company that manages the chip your dog’s electronics. Microchipping your dog improves the chances that he will be reunited with you if he ever gets lost. Having both a visible ID tag and a microchip is the best way to ensure your dog is returned to you as quickly as possible.

9. Help your dog settle in immediately

Dog looking happy to receive a big hug from its owner

Photo courtesy: Public domain from Pixabay

Although you may find it easy to settle into your new home, the transition can be difficult for some dogs. Fortunately, there are plenty of expert-approved ways to help your dog feel comfortable in their new home. You will no doubt have a thousand and one things to do, but make a conscious effort to give your dog plenty of love and attention to help him relax and adjust to his new home.

10. Double check your fences

If your new home has a fenced yard, congratulations! But don’t assume it will keep your dog safe on your property until you thoroughly inspect it and make any necessary repairs. For some dogs, a wireless dog fence may be a good option, especially if your physical fence isn’t as strong or escape-proof as you’d like.

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