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How To Help Your Pets Adjust to a New Mountain Home

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Moving to a mountainous region can be exhilarating. The fresh air, breathtaking scenery, and the peaceful environment are magnets for those seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, as you acclimate to your new high-altitude home, the concern for your furry friends' well-being might weigh heavily on your mind.

Pets, like us, need time to adjust to changes, especially significant ones like moving to a different altitude. This post serves as a guide to help pet owners ease their cat and dog companions through the transition of a mountain move, ensuring their health and happiness.

Start With A Check-Up

Before you even pack the first box, a visit to the vet is a non-negotiable step in your moving process. The check should include an evaluation of your pet's overall health, with particular attention to their respiratory system and heart, as altitude can significantly impact these areas.

When you’re first starting to plan your move up to the mountains, get a full physical done for your pet, with a focus done on these areas:

Respiratory & Heart: Altitude reduction means lower oxygen levels, which can affect pets with heart or respiratory issues. Inform the vet about your plans and ask them to check for any signs of concern. Based on their evaluation, they might offer medications or recommendations to ease your pet's transition to the new altitude.

Vaccinations: A different location might require different vaccines and preventatives. Your vet can advise on any additional vaccinations needed to protect your pet from altitude-related diseases such as tick-borne illnesses. They may also recommend changes to your pet's flea, tick, and heartworm prevention methods based on regional risks.

Getting Ready for the Move

Whether you're relocating permanently or enjoying a second home nestled in the mountains, making the move comfortable for your pet requires thoughtful planning.

Short Car Trips

If your pet isn't used to long car rides, it's crucial to desensitize them to the experience before a significant move. Start with short trips and gradually increase the time and distance to help them adjust to the motion and sounds of the vehicle. Use treats and praise to make the experience positive.

Safe and Calm Environment

Invest in travel crates if your pet doesn't have one already, and make sure they are associated with safety and calm. Place their favorite blanket or a shirt with your scent in the crate to help soothe them during the journey. Remember to secure the crate in the car to prevent injury during sudden stops.

Take A Little Field Trip

If you have a trailer or RV, take a weekend trip up near your mountain home with your dogs or leash-trained cat. Spending some time exploring the smells, weather, and plants surrounding their new home can help them feel more familiar with the space, and it can lead to a smoother transition to a new environment.

Acclimating Your Pet to a New Home

Once you're at your mountain abode, it’s time to help your pet adapt to their new surroundings. Here are some tips on what to do for your first few days in your new home:

Familiarity Is Essential

Begin by bringing a piece of your pet's former home to the new residence. Items such as their bed, favorite toys, and dishes can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. Since scents are a significant part of an animal's world, having familiar-smelling objects around can ease their anxiety in the new space.

Gradual Changes

Avoid sudden shifts in routine. Keep feeding times and the nature of their diet consistent. If possible, stick with the same water source or consider using filtered water. Sudden dietary changes or unfamiliar water sources can lead to digestive issues.


Outdoor Adventures

When it comes to dogs, start with short, easy walks to give them time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels. Gradually increase the duration of walks as they become more used to the environment. If you live near high-altitude trails, give your dog time to acclimate indoors before hitting the steep inclines. For your cat, you may want to consider leash-training them, or creating a catio for them to get some outdoor enrichment.

Curbing Stress-Based Behavior

Change can be stressful for both cats and dogs. Look for signs of stress, such as excessive grooming, hiding, refusal to eat, or unusually aggressive behavior.

Creating Safe Spaces

Provide a designated safe area where your pet can retreat to feel secure. This could be a cozy spot under a table or a hidden-away corner with their bed and toys. You can also start them out in one room of the house, then slowly let them explore through your new home and find their own safe spaces–just remember that they should explore on their own timeframe, not yours.

Positive Associations

Use positive reinforcement to create good associations with the new home. Offer treats in various locations around the house to encourage exploration and show them that the new environment is nothing to fear. You can also put their food bowl in a higher traffic place, so they become accustomed to the hustle and bustle of their new home easier.

Calming Aids

Like humans, there are plenty of calming aids for your pets that will help them adjust to their new living space without stress. Pheromone diffusers and collars can create a calming environment for both cats and dogs, as can supplements like CBD oils or Rescue Remedy. If those aren’t enough, ask your vet (before you move) about mild sedatives that can make the move that much easier for both you and your pet.


Finding Pet Communities and a New Vet

One of the best ways to help your pet feel at home is by integrating them into the local pet community.

Find A New Vet Right Away

Before you move, be sure to research local vets in your new neighborhood, and schedule an appointment relatively soon after your move so you can have their records sent over and have them on file in case of emergencies. A good rapport with your vet is vital, especially at higher altitudes where changes in health or any illnesses need immediate attention.

Get To Know A New Groomer

Like with the vet, establishing a relationship with the pet groomers in the area are an essential part of setting up a comfortable new home for you and your pet. Mobile pet groomers that come to your home can be a great option during this time of transition, since it reduces the amount of new places with new people that your pet needs to visit, with all the smells and stresses associated with it.


Arrange Pet Play Dates - With Humans And Animals

Finding other pet parents in the area can help you find your own community along with finding friends for your furry pals. While cats may not want to run around a park or go out for a walk with others like your dog does, it can be a great idea to invite familiar and new friends over to get them out of their shell.

A New Start For You And Your Pet

The key to a successful transition for your pets into a new mountain home is patience, preparation, and a touch of love. By taking the preventative steps and acclimation measures outlined in this post, you can ensure a smoother experience for your four-legged friends. Remember, the joy and peace that a mountain home can bring to both you and your pets are well worth the initial adjustments. Welcome to the mountain life—tail wags and all!