Here’s How to Relocate Your Pets and Houseplants, Safe and Sound

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Though it’s time-consuming and cumbersome to fill box after box with all your belongings in preparation for a move, it’s actually relatively easy to go room by room and pack everything. Sure, some items are oversized and will need to be wrapped or draped before the move, but this is easy to accomplish, too. Where many people start to run into problems is when they consider the living objects in their home—namely, plants and pets.

Plants and pets need special attention during a relocation because, like people, they react and respond to the stimuli in their environment. A nervous puppy is going to make a big mess as people come and go, loading up the moving truck. Likewise, plants can wilt or even die if they’re mishandled in transit. It pays to delegate special attention to these living things, to make sure they’re getting due attention during your move.

Here are a few tips you can be mindful of if you have a house full of plants or a couple of pets, and how to make the moving process as simple and safe for these living creatures as you possibly can.

Tips for moving houseplants safely

Some plants fare better than others in the face of adversity. It’s nearly impossible to kill a Japanese Peace Lily or a couple of succulents. Conversely, Pothos and Pilea plants can take a turn for the worst if even the slightest element of their habitat is disrupted. The first step in treating your plants right is to know what you have and how resilient they are.

For hardy plants, all you really need to make sure of is that they’re not handled roughly during transport. Put them in your backseat or your trunk and make sure there’s nothing there that will squish them. Many hardy plants can even weather this temporary environment overnight, so long as it’s not peak summer or winter. As a rule of thumb, try not to keep plants in transit for any longer than they absolutely need to be.

For delicate plants, you’ll need to take many more precautions and considerations. For the most delicate plants, consider transporting them in a temperature-controlled environment. For example, set the cabin temperature of your car to a balmy 72 degrees to keep fluctuations at a minimum. Next, create stability by holding plants on your lap or keeping them in a box in the back seat. Finally, make sure they’re appropriately watered before and after the move.

Plants should never go in the moving truck with the rest of your items and should always be relocated directly from Point A to Point B. It’s also a good idea to move plants last, so you have a stable environment to put them in when you get all moved in to your new place. Avoid touching leaves or the plant itself when handling—always hold the pot, and avoid tipping or swaying the pot while you move it. Overall, the message for moving plants is stability.

Tips for relocating pets

Like plants, pets need special attention when moving. This process is going to be highly disruptive for them, full of new sights, sounds and stimuli. It’s easy for a puppy to get overexcited or a cat to shrink away in fear and hide. Other pets like fish and amphibians can be extremely delicate, requiring specialized care to transport safely. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Dogs: If possible, have your dog stay with someone else on moving day. All the activity will excite them and can over-excite them to the point where they become stressed or anxious. Giving your dog the day off and introducing them to the new home after you’re partially moved in is a much better way to ease the transition. If this isn’t an option, delegate someone in the family to babysit the dog during the hectic parts of the move.
  • Cats: Like dogs, cats will know what’s going on when moving day rolls around. Cats are more likely to shrink away and hide, which can be a problem as you try to empty out your old place and move into your new one. If possible, take cats to a friend or family member’s house on moving day. If you can’t do that, have someone keep an eye on the cat all day to make sure they don’t A) go into hiding, B) escape or C) have a panic attack.
  • Fish: Fish are extremely delicate and need the utmost care when relocating. Try to keep the water temperature of your fish consistent before a move. It’s often better to relocate them to a smaller tank with a secure cover, and to move them in the same way you move plants. If possible, try to establish a home for your fish early in the unpacking, so you can get them settled and stabilized as quickly as possible.
  • Lizards: Lizards are also very delicate creatures who need consistent temperatures and environment. Like fish, you’ll want to relocate them quickly, directly from your old place to your new place. Make sure they have an established environment as soon as possible at your new place and keep a close eye on them to make sure they acclimate accordingly. Interestingly, many vets specializing in lizards and amphibians will provide boarding services that can take the stress out of moving your cold-blooded friend!
  • Rodents: Rodents shouldn’t leave their cage during the move, for fear that they’ll run off. Handle them as you would a cat, dog or other small mammal, taking them with you in your car and tending to them during the move. Rodents are prone to stress, so do everything you can to provide a calm, stable environment. When you’re at your new home, give them some extra love and attention to let them know the disruptions are over.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your vet before a move. They may have additional tips specifically for you and your pet, or they may prescribe certain medications or products to ease the transition. It’s also not a bad idea to schedule an appointment for after the move, just to make sure they’re acclimating well.

Keep every living thing safe

Plants and pets add life to your home, and they’re part of what makes a house into a home! If you enjoy pets and plants currently, make sure you’re making special accommodations for them in the lead-up to a move. Some foresight and planning is enough to ensure they’re properly cared for and that they adapt to their new surroundings quickly.

If you have other questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to consult with experienced moving professionals or your trusted veterinarian.

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