Tips For Moving With Pets
Relocating across the country is exciting but can also be stressful, especially when you’re doing it with your furry family members. Pets become accustomed to routines and places they know, so moving to a new location can be disorienting and anxiety-provoking.
The good news is with some planning and preparation, you can make the transition as smooth as possible for your pets and ensure they settle into your new place happily.
From choosing the right moving company and preparing essential supplies to keep pets comfortable during travel and helping them adjust to new surroundings, there are many things you can do to make moving with pets less stressful for everyone involved.
The key is giving your dogs and cats plenty of time and patience. With the proper care and attention, your pets can thrive in their new environment and turn your house into a home in no time. Moving is a significant change, but with love and the right strategy, you and your pets can navigate it together.
Find A Pet-Friendly Place To Live
Finding a new place to call home is stressful enough without worrying about whether or not your furry family members will be welcome. Do your research ahead of time and look for pet-friendly housing.
Check rental listings for keywords like “allows pets” or “pet friendly.” Call landlords and property managers directly to inquire about their pet policies and any possible restrictions on breed, size, or number of pets. Be prepared to provide references for your pets to reassure them that you are a responsible owner.
Look for houses or complexes with yards, nearby parks, or trails where you’ll have space to walk, run and play with your pets. If you’re in an apartment, proximity to outdoor areas is even more critical. Make sure any yards, patios, or balconies are securely fenced.
When you find a good place, schedule a walkthrough. Look for easy-to-clean floors like wood, tile, or linoleum, and avoid carpet if possible. Check that doors and windows seal properly to prevent escape attempts or outside pests from getting in. Consider any additional modifications to make the space pet-proof, like a doggy door or mesh screens.
Moving to a new home is a big change, so help your pets adjust by keeping a routine, sticking close by, and giving them extra love and patience. Make their favorite spaces, toys, beds, food, and water bowls easily accessible right away in the new place.
Make Vet Appointments Before And After The Move
Before the move, scheduling vet appointments for checkups and get copies of your pets’ medical records in case of emergencies. Have your vet examine your pets to ensure they are fit to travel and handle the stress of moving to a new home. Get any necessary vaccinations or treatments out of the way ahead of time. Ensure they wear ID tags with your contact information if they escape during the move.
Find A New Veterinarian
Do some research online or ask for referrals to find a highly-rated vet within a reasonable distance of your new home. Call to inquire if they accept new patients and schedule checkups for your pets as soon as you move in. Moving to a new place can be disorienting and stressful for animals, so a vet visit will help them get comfortable with their new environment and caretaker.
Ask About Local Health Issues
Speak to vets at your current and future locations about any diseases or parasites common in the areas you’re moving from and to. See if there are any additional vaccinations or preventatives they would recommend based on your pets’ lifestyle and the new local climate. For example, heartworm prevention medication dosage may need to be adjusted in warmer southern areas. Discuss flea, tick, and heartworm prevention to ensure your pets stay healthy and protected from local pests.
Update Your Pets’ IDs
Once you have an address for your new home, update the contact information on your pets’ ID tags, microchips, and registrations. If your pets get lost during or after the move, up-to-date ID will make it much more likely they will be returned safe and sound to you.
Relocating to a new area can expose your furry family members to unfamiliar health risks, so planning and finding a trusted vet in your new hometown should be a top priority. With the proper precautions taken, you’ll be able to enjoy your new adventure together without worry.
Gather Supplies To Keep Your Pets Comfortable
To make moving with pets as stress-free as possible, gather essential supplies to keep them comfortable during the move and in your new home.
Food, Water, and Bowls
Pack up your pets’ food, treats, bowls, and medications. Having their familiar food and routine will help reduce stress during the moving process. Don’t forget bottled water in case there are issues with the water supply at either your old or new home.
Ensure your cats and dogs wear sturdy collars with ID tags that include your current contact information in case they get lost during the move. You’ll also want to update the tags once you have your new address and phone numbers.
Crates and Carriers
Secure crates, carriers, and leashes will ensure your pets stay safe during the loading, unloading, and unpacking. Place familiar bedding, toys, litter boxes, food, and water in the crates to make them feel more at home.
Toys and scratching posts
Bring your pets’ favorite toys, scratching posts, litter boxes, and other large items to place in your new home immediately. Having familiar items in their new space will help them adjust to the new surroundings faster.
Train Your Pets For The Long Distance Move
Start training and preparing them well in advance to make moving with pets easier on them (and you!).
Get Them Used to Their Carriers
If your pets aren’t accustomed to their carriers, start crate training them at least a month before the move. Feed them in their carriers, give them treats and praise when they go in voluntarily, and take them on short car rides to help them associate it with positive experiences. This will make it much less stressful for them on moving day.
Work on basic obedience commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Use lots of positive reinforcement with treats and praise to help them pick up these skills quickly. Stronger commands will give you more control on moving day and in your new home.
Keep Your Pets Secure In The Vehicle
When it’s time to hit the road, keeping your furry friends safe and secure should be a top priority. Their comfort and well-being will make the move easier for you both.
Choose a Carrier or Crate
For smaller pets, a carrier is ideal. Look for one large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down in, with secure locks and ventilation. For larger dogs, a crate is best. Familiarize your pet with it before the move to avoid stressing them out. Line it with a towel, mat, or bedding, and bring toys, treats, and any medications to keep them comfortable.
Secure it Properly
Whether using a carrier or crate, ensure it is securely fastened in your vehicle before driving off. Carriers should be buckled in or placed on the floor behind a seat. Crates can be strapped or tied down to prevent sliding. This protects your pet in case of sudden stops or turns.
Make Frequent Stops
While driving, stop every few hours to check on your pet, walk dogs and give food/water. Let smaller pets out of their carrier for exercise and potty breaks. Reassure your pet with affection and treats each time their carrier is opened. Keep a leash on hand for when they need to get out.
Choose A Pet Transportation Company
You also have the option to choose a reputable pet transportation service that can help reduce stress for both you and your furry friends. These companies are professionals who know how to properly handle animals and keep them safe and secure during transport.
Do Your Research
Check reviews from other pet owners to find a company with a proven track record of caring for animals. Ask if they are licensed, insured, and certified in pet first aid. Inquire about their vehicle types, security, transportation features, and any amenities for long trips. Meet with company representatives in advance, if possible, to get a feel for how they interact with pets.
Discuss Your Pets’ Needs
Give the company details about your pets’ ages, breeds, sizes, temperaments, and any medical conditions so they can determine the appropriate transportation method and necessary accommodations. Be open about your pets’ likes, dislikes, fears, or anxiety triggers so the staff can help keep them comfortable. Ask about options for walks, exercise, bathroom breaks, food, water, climate control, and emergency vet care along the route.
Ensure your pets’ vaccinations, medical records, and any necessary permits or licenses for crossing state borders are current and ready to provide to the company. Microchip your pets in case they escape during a walk or potty break. Include your current vet’s contact information and the info for an emergency vet at your destination.
Visit Beforehand (If Possible)
Have a representative meet your pets in their home environment before the move. This allows the staff to familiarize themselves with your pets and gain their trust, making the actual transport day less frightening for the animals. It also gives you peace of mind that your pets are in good hands.
Make Your New Home Pet-Friendly Before Moving Day
To make a move as stress-free as possible for your furry friends, do some prep work to ensure their new home is ready for them.
Pet-Proof the House
Before moving day, thoroughly inspect your new place for any hazards or access points that could endanger your pets. Block off any holes or cracks leading to the attic, basement, or garage where pets could get trapped or exposed to toxic substances. Install baby gates to restrict access to certain areas. Ensure all trash, food waste, and chemicals are securely stored in cabinets or drawers pets can’t open.
Set Up Essentials
Set up food and water bowls, litter boxes, scratching posts, toys, leashes, carriers, bedding, grooming supplies, waste bags, etc., in spots your pets already associate with those items. Keeping some familiarity will help reduce stress and confusion in the new surroundings.
Confine Pets at First
When you first arrive at the new home, confine pets to one room with essentials like food, water, a litter box, a bed, and toys. This gives them time to adjust to the new place’s smells and sounds in a secure space. Slowly give them access to more of the home over the first few days. Provide affection, play, and treats to help make positive associations.
A little preparation and patience will help your furry family members settle into the new home sweet home. Keeping things consistent, limiting stress, and giving lots of reassurance during the transition will have your pets feeling right at home in no time. The effort you put in will be well worth it!
Tips For Helping Your Cat Or Dog Adjust
Moving to a new home is stressful for pets. Help ease your furry friends into their new surroundings with these tips:
Give Them Their Own Space
Set up a room just for your pets where they can go to feel safe. Keep their essentials there like food, water, litter box, bed, and toys. This space will become familiar while the rest of the house feels new.
Stick to a Routine
Maintaining your pets’ regular routines can help reduce stress and anxiety. Feed them, walk them, and give them attention at the usual times. If possible, unpack their things first to set up space quickly. Familiar smells and a predictable schedule reassure them during this transition.
Give Them Time to Adjust
Moving day will likely be stressful and scary for your pets. Give them space to adjust to the new sights and sounds on their own timeline. Some pets may hide at first. Ensure they have access to food, water, a litter box, and private space, and give them affection when they come around. Stay patient—some pets can take days or weeks to settle in.
Give Extra Attention and Affection
- Spend quality one-on-one time with your pets. Play with them, groom them, and take them for extra walks.
- Give them praise, belly rubs, ear scratches, and treats. Your love and affection will help reassure them.
- If they seem anxious, try an anxiety vest, pheromone collar, or calming aids. Ask your vet about anxiety medication if needed.
The move may be stressful initially, but with time, patience, routine, and love, your furry family members will feel right at home. Keep reassuring them; they’ll enjoy their new place before you know it! Staying calm yourself will also help keep your pets feeling secure.
Moving With Pets FAQ
Does moving traumatize cats?
Yes. Cats are territorial creatures, and moving to a new home can be stressful. Some signs your cat may be traumatized by the move include:
- Hiding and seeking out small, confined spaces
- Loss of appetite or not using the litter box
- Excessive meowing, especially at night
- Aggressive or fearful behavior
To help reduce stress for your cat, keep as much as possible the same, like feeding schedules, litter boxes, scratching posts, and hiding spots. Give your cat extra love and playtime, and ensure they have a space to themselves in the new home where they feel safe. Most cats will relax and adjust to their new surroundings within a week or two.
How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a move?
Most dogs will adjust to a new home within 2 to 4 weeks. Some dogs may settle in within a few days, while more anxious dogs can take six weeks or longer to relax in a new environment fully.
How do I destress my dog after moving?
Stick to your routine as much as possible. Keep walks, feedings, and playtimes at the usual times. This helps create a sense of normalcy. Give your dog plenty of exercises, have walks around the neighborhood, and be patient.