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Cat and dog sleeping under christmas treeMost households in the U.S. have at least one pet, and chances are, there will come a point where you’ll have to relocate — whether you’re upgrading to homeownership, moving in with a friend, or getting acclimated in a new apartment complex, keeping your furry friend happy and healthy every step of the way should be a major priority. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds, and without proper planning, you could end up finding yourself in a stressful situation. Here’s what all pet owners should know about moving while keeping their furry friends happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Learn Your New Rules

This may not apply to all moves, but those who are renting or are otherwise moving into a property that has rules about pet ownership should double check them carefully. Some living communities require residents with pets to get them extra vaccinations or certificates. You may also need to pay an extra pet deposit or monthly pet fee. Make sure to read the rules carefully so you aren’t caught off guard with new information.

Move Slowly

This isn’t always a possibility, but if you have the option to spread out your packing process over a number of days or weeks, you should take it. The longer you have to pack your belongings, the more normal you can keep things until moving day actually arrives. And be wary of where you’re storing boxes for the long-term: over 98% of all homes with basements will experience some type of water damage, so your home’s basement may not be the best place for long-term safe-keeping. Instead, consider keeping packed boxes in a steel shipping container, which averages a 25-year lifespan and requires minimal maintenance, or taking them to a storage unit. These options keep boxes safe and out of the way of your pet’s everyday path.

Make a Moving Day Plan

When moving day arrives, it’s important to have a specific plan ready to keep your pet comfortable. Cat owners may have success putting a cat carrier out several days ahead of time, giving the cat time to enter on their own schedule. But your pet definitely needs to be out of the way while furniture is being moved — for the sake of everyone’s safety. During this time, Angie’s List has a number of suggestions:

“Find a friend who wouldn’t mind pet sitting or find a place away from all the noise of moving such as a doggy daycare or cat care center. If you can visit them during a spare moment, it can help reassure the pets that nothing is going on. Keeping pets locked away in a room during moving day can make them anxious from all the noise and new people that might be in your home. If you must keep them locked away, find a quiet room, water bowl and put a HUGE sign on the door,” writes Laura McHolm.

Moving is always stressful, especially for your pet. But taking these precautions ahead of time and forming a proper plan is the best way to keep your furry friend as comfortable as possible and ready to acclimate to their new environment.