PCSing can bring a whirlwind of emotions for the entire family, and it can be especially difficult for those that don’t have a voice. I don’t just mean our children.
Well, in a way they are our children. I’m talking about our pets! Integral members of the family, yet impossible to have a conversation with about what is happening when the three little letters – PCS – disrupt everything they’ve known. While we can’t prevent it, we can help ease the transition for our furriest members of the family. Here are our tips for moving with pets.
Before moving with pets:
1. Purchase a pet carrier
Purchase one even if your pet doesn’t use it now. This is the time to get them used to it. Put a blanket or shirt inside, something that will smell familiar. Encourage them to explore it. Put treats in the back. You’ll want this to become a safe space for your pet to hang out when movers are packing up everything and propping open doors to carry everything out. Also, it comes in handy when transporting your pet in and out of the car and unloading at your new residence.
2. Get your dog acclimated
If your dog will be a car-rider sans carrier, start taking short trips around town with Fido to acclimate him. This is important for both of you. He needs to get used to car travel, and you need to make sure you can handle a long ride with him. You don’t want to find out during the first leg of your cross-country drive that he has motion sickness.
3. Research pet-friendly hotels
Websites such as GoPetFriendly.com and Bringfido.com are a great starting point. Also, there are likely many dog-friendly places to stop along your route. Use our guide to finding pet-friendly hotels along your route. Planning can make for a fun trip for everyone.
4. See your Vet
Visit with your vet to make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and grab a copy of their medical records. Also, talk to your vet about any pet concerns and possible medications to make travel easier. Make sure before you leave to get your dog or cat micro-chipped so that if they do happen to escape, they can get back home to you.
During your PCS move with pets:
During your move, make sure you have plenty of pet food and treats, food bowls, medications, and leashes and collars with your contact information. Make sure to always leash your dog before opening car doors. Ensure your cat is secured inside the pet carrier.
If staying overnight at a hotel and leaving for dinner, placing the cat inside the carrier prior to heading out may not be a bad idea. The last thing you want upon re-entering your room is for your frightened kitty to dash out the door in a strange town.
Once you and your pets arrive:
Once you arrive at your new home, try to make everything as consistent as possible with their routine at the departure residence. If your cat’s litter box was in the basement bathroom at the old home, start out with the basement level in the new home. If you fed your dog twice a day before, feed him twice a day now. Maybe you had your cat tower near a window earlier, give them a similar vantage point again. Just like children, pets thrive on routine and consistency.
Finally, pets are an important part of our family! If you’re moving with children, they can be of comfort to each other during this time of transition as well. With a little bit of planning and preparation, the move can be a fun one!
Natasha Harth is a military spouse and the Armed Forces Insurance 2016 Military Spouse of the Year. She lives with her husband, Patrick, an active duty Marine, in Virginia.