Dog in car window

Transitions for Military Pets

Our pets are members of our family. They bring us joy, comfort and companionship, and are integral parts of our lives. As a military spouse, the thing I stress most about when moving is the well-being of my family — before, during and after the move.

During our first PCS, my oldest cat would not cooperate with the mild sedative the vet recommended. She managed to claw her way out of a soft-sided carrier, was panting during the drive and proceeded to urinate on us while we were sleeping to let us know how she really felt! In retrospect, it makes for a good story, but it is an example of how our pets may get anxious during this time which likely adds to our stress.

One of the best ways to ease stress is to start planning for pets as far ahead of the move as possible — for many of us, we know where we will be going months ahead of time.

  • Budget for costs associated with moving your pet including vaccinations, boarding, quarantining fees, etc.
  • Make sure your pets have a safe, secure place to stay while you’re packing and unpacking.
  • Arrange transportation and update identification information.
  • Organize pet supplies like food, medications, toys and personal belongings.

It’s also important to consider how stressful a move can be for your pet. Talking to your vet about ways to keep your animal comfortable and calm is a great idea. Here are some additional tips for helping your pet settle into their new environment.

  • Ensure that their favorite blankets and toys are available in a place that’s easy for them to find.
  • Determine the location for their food, water, litter boxes, etc., and make sure they know where they are.
  • Let them explore their new home, yard and neighborhood at their own pace.
  • Reward them with lots of treats or a new toy.

When you’re preparing for a military move, your pet is part of the family. Moving with a pet can add another layer of complexity to your plans, especially if you’re moving overseas. It’s important to remember that our pets also pick up on our stress and frustration. So, be sure to take a few minutes for yourself whenever you can!

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