Cao and I have safely arrived in Fort Collins and are settling in nicely with our human and animal roommates, which include two pups, three cats, and the author of Tails of Fort Collins, who allowed me to write a guest post.
Cao has been stress shedding profusely since she saw the first cardboard box come out. This is probably the most organized move I’ve ever done, and while it means that I’ll show up for vet school knowing exactly where my Veterinary Virology book, Carhartt bibs, and shampoo are, it also means that the stress of packing has just been spread out over a longer period for both me, and Cao.
Here are some ideas on how to minimize the stress of a move on your and your pets:
1) Start acclimating your pet to kennel travel.
Not everyone wants their pet to be kenneled while driving, but it add another arrow to your quiver of skills, both for moving, and in the case of an emergency. Begin the process well before your move by procuring an adequately-sized, hard sided kennel. The ASPCA has a great resource for how to crate train your dog over a weekend. Then, move the crate to the vehicle, and practice crating while on the move (but never leave your pet in a hot car). If you’ve got a kitty, it’s a good idea to harness train them as well.
2) Bring some easily accessible familiar items.
Your pet should have a designated space during the move – a bed, blanket, kennel, etc. Work with your pet to establish it as “their place” at home. A favorite toy can provide some security as well.
3) Now’s not the time to change foods.
Make sure you have enough of your pet’s current food to last for a week or two after arrival – or check with local pet supply stores to make sure it will be available there.
The day before the move, block out some time for you and your pet to get some exercise. A llllooooonnnngggg walk for you and your dog, or some laser/feather flinger time for your kitty. It’ll provide some normalcy, tucker them out a little and help them (and you!) relax. I’ve also increased Cao’s bone time. The day of the move, make sure their morning activities are as uninterrupted as possible.
Request veterinary records for your animals from all vets you’ve seen. To cross interstate borders, your animal should have proof of current rabies vaccination. In case of emergency boarding, I recommend that dogs are currently vaccinated for Bordetella and canine distemper, and cats should be vaccinated for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and feline distemper. Keep the phone number of your current vet handy, and research veterinary options in your new hometown – it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with a vet before a crisis occurs.
6) Pet-proof your travel plans.
Make sure you’ve budgeted time for walks, confirmed that pets are welcome at any hotels along the way, and brought along a cat litter box, if necessary (Xerox box tops work great as a portable, disposable solution.)
7) On sedation…
I think that most travel anxiety can be eliminated with a combination of careful acclimation and exercise, but if you and your vet decide that sedation is required, make sure that you do a test run with the drug at home before the move. You do not want to discover that your pet reacts poorly 150 miles from the nearest vet, or in the middle of the night at a hotel.
Now, to continue packing, while Cao sighs heavy-heartedly. T minus 44 hours! Got some additional advice for moving with pets, or other good resources? Leave it in the comments!
If I lived in a major city, I would probably be one of those people who wiped their pet’s paws at the door. You see, I have this thing about bringing feces into the house. It’s pretty specific to human and canine feces, although I’m impartial to raccoon as well. Herbivore manure? No problem. When I worked as a wrangler, I relished watching the faces of children register that everything they were walking on was probably poo.
Pardon me for the tangent – the reason I brought up paw wiping is because one of the best things about paw wiping would be that I would routinely get a good look at my pet’s paws. Most pet owners that I know (other than my dear friend Jessica, who routinely smells her pet’s feet) rarely get a good look.
This week, I’d like you to pick up the foot and get down. Take each of your animal’s feet/hooves and examine them. Look for cracking, uneven wear, signs of compulsive licking/stomping. For dogs and cats, look between the pads. Examine each claw. Horse owners should explore all around the frog and coronet band with their hands (no tools!). The hoof wall should be smooth and regular. Feel the different textures of the hoof/paw, and take note of any areas to watch. Don’t attempt to clip/trim anything – just look.
Acclimating your pet to extensive foot examination sets them up for successful trips to the vet, as well as increases your ease of handling were there an issue that needed to be treated. Routine foot handling means that when it becomes necessary to trim claws/hooves, you’re only asking them to let you perform one unfamiliar task. This time of year in Montana, we see abscesses when awns or cactus needles become wedged between the pads. Examining your pet’s paws after a stroll through the grass/field of prickly pear could prevent one!
If you’re able, start handling your animals’ feet in a variety of settings from the time their young. This is one area where equestrians have proven themselves ahead of the curve, probably because the stakes are a little higher when picking up the leg of a 1000 pound animal. If they can do it, you can too!
Got a great paw/hoof photo? Share below!
Anyone who signs up for six more years of school at the age of 26 must love being a student, but my junior year of undergrad, I grew weary of academia and decided to take a semester off from pursuing my German degree to ski bum. I worked as a snowboard instructor at a fairly large resort, and part of the training offered to us was a Children’s Accreditation. As a part of this course, we learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which Abraham Maslow conceived of as a part of his Theory of Human Motivation.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes the basic human needs that must be met before self-actualization, or the realization of one’s full potential, can occur.
In the past few years, while talking with people about their animals and their veterinary and behavioral concerns, I often found myself referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Before we can achieve willing partnership with our animals, we need to make sure that their basic needs are met.
In order to help us achieve willing partnership, I’ve developed an adaptation of Maslow’s Hierarchy for companion animals. It’s new and still forming. Too anthropomorphic for you? Take what you will, and leave the rest. I welcome you to start thinking about where you draw the line between humans and other animals.
In future posts, I will discuss each of the levels in detail, but for now, I submit this as food for thought, and welcome your feedback.
The human-animal bond is a relationship worth exploring. The Domesticates blog, podcasts and video series serves to aid readers in creating a willing partnership; a relationship in which the needs of both animal and human parties are fulfilled. A willing partnership is an idea that was defined for me by one of my mentors, Dr. Sid Gustafson, a veterinary behaviorist. In his experience, as in mine, domesticated species are happy to please their guardians, as long as we do our part to enrich their lives and cultivate a trusting, respectful relationship.