Moving takes a lot of physical and emotional energy. It can be stressful for the entire family. Winter can bring additional stress. It’s important to think ahead, make a plan and enjoy the process.
Your four-legged friends need love, attention, and consideration during the move. They’ll be picking up cues from your physical and emotional energy. Keep cool, calm, and collected so your pets can enjoy the process too. Everyone will feel better after a pleasant move. You will soon settle in and enjoy your new home together, no matter the weather: rain, shine, sleet, or snow.
Here are some basic pet safety tips and moving tips when moving with pets in the winter.
Winter Pet Safety
How Cold is it?: According to the ASPCA “if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet”. Be mindful of the temperatures in the winter, especially if you’re relocating to Maine from a warmer climate. Keep pets inside, and do not leave them alone in the car (cars can hold in cold air and act just like a refrigerator).
Keep Pets Leashed: Dogs can lose their scent in the snow. They get lost. Make sure your pets have their ID tag. According to the ASPCA more dogs are lost in the winter than in any other season of the year.
“Please Sir, I Want Some More”: According to the ASPCA winter time is the right time to feed your pets a little more. They won’t complain. They need the calories to burn and stay warm. Remember to keep their water bowls filled too.
Let’s Get a Move On
Veterinarian: Contact your pet’s veterinarian. Confirm that their vaccinations are up to date and you have refills available for any current medications. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a healthcare provider for your pet in the new town. They are also a great source of knowledge for advice specific to your pet to make the move less stressful. Remember to request a copy of your pet's health records.
The Daily Routine: Your feline and canine friends will be happy and comfortable knowing that their daily needs are being met. Mealtime, walks, and playtime should happen on a regular schedule during the entire moving process.
Empty Boxes: Moving box curiosity will provide comfort to your cat. Cats don’t like change, and introducing a healthy assortment of moving boxes around your home several weeks before moving will make the transition easier. You don’t need to fill them up right away. Just get some boxes assembled and place them in various rooms around the house. This will provide a non-verbal cue: something is changing. This can also be helpful to dogs who need time to adjust.
Packing & Unpacking Boxes: “Hey, where’s squeaky purple penguin?” is not something you should have to think about during the move (if squeaky purple penguin happens to be your dog's favorite toy). The favorite should be left out and ready for play until the last possible minute. Pack dog toys, cat toys, and treats after everything else is packed. Keep an eye on that toy and treat box. It should be the first box you unpack in your new home. Your pets will feel much better in their new surroundings when the squeaky purple penguin is ready for play, and all of their favorite things and tasty treats are ready and available in the new and strange environment.
On the Road: If your pets aren’t great travelers, use the same methodology employed with the empty boxes to present the travel crates. Bring them into their environment well before moving day. A great way to introduce the crate is to feed meals to your pet in the crate (with the door open). You can serve meals with the crate door closed after a couple of days, or when they start getting more comfortable with the new gadget.
If your dog is a great traveler, you might not need a crate. Be sure to have their favorite blanket and a proper place to relax in the vehicle.
Smaller animals, reptiles, birds, and fish all require careful attention for traveling. Heavy objects should be removed from the cages of smaller animals, so they don’t roll over during the drive. Reptiles will need something to keep themselves warm, such as a hot water bottle. Birds travel best in their cages, and those cages need to be secured. Fish travel well when kept in plastic bags with water, and oxygen, from their tank. The bags of fish can be kept in a styrofoam container for safety, just remember to monitor the temperature at regular intervals.
Long Distance Moves: There are companies that specialize in the transportation of animals and pets. This is sometimes the best option when making a long distance move. Companies have different criteria. Be sure to contact the company long before the move so you have ample time to follow all established guidelines.
Home Again, Home Again Jiggety-Jig: Home won’t feel like home to your pets right away. There will be a lot of new spaces and rooms to explore in the house before your pets will be feeling comfortable and happy. The ASPCA recommends choosing one room as a home-base. Place your pet's water, food, treats, and toys (and a litter box for cats) in that one room. Keep the doors of other rooms in the house closed. When your pets are comfortable with one room (home-base) you can open the door to another the following day and so on. It is a gradual process. Litter boxes can be moved to the intended permanent location over time. They should only be moved about one foot per day.
Safety First: Conduct a comprehensive safety check in and around your new home. Make sure there are no pest control poisons, traps, unsafe materials, or toxic plants (i.e. holiday poinsettias). The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, and horses on its site. Note that according to the ASPCA, the toxicity of poinsettias is generally over-rated. They have an irritant sap that will irritate the mouth and stomach of your pet and sometimes cause vomiting. Nevertheless, it is always best to contact your local veterinarian or the APCC (animal poison control center) if you believe your pet has ingested something toxic. Also make sure the doors and windows in your new home are secure, to prevent any untimely escapes.
Adventures Too!!!: Once your pets get the lay of the land it will be time for an adventure. Visit the new dog park or take a short walk in the snow on a trail at a state park. There will be plenty of sights, sounds, and smells for your dog to explore and enjoy when you find your perfect home in the magical winter wonderland of Maine.
Meservier & Associates has been serving Maine home buyers and sellers with a collection of resources, agents, and market data since 1988. We look forward to working with you. We wish you, your family, and your furry four-legged companions a safe journey to your new home. Contact us today!