Moving with Pets

Moving can be very stressful for our furry friends. But here are some tips to make the transition easier for everyone.


Before the Move

Pets will sense something is amiss when belongings begin getting packed into boxes and may react poorly. Cats need consistency and will likely respond with stress to the packing. Dogs are also likely to respond with stress, especially as family members are stressed. The more relaxed family members can be about the move, the better. That means bringing in boxes and to begin packing early – a box or two a day so they can begin to see that there isn’t anything to be concerned about is a great way to acclimate them to the change.

Also, if pets are used to only going in the car or their carrier to the vet, begin acclimating them to short, positive stints in their crates as the house is getting packed up. Begin this weeks ahead of time. Put some treats or food in the crate and as they go in, give them positive reinforcement. When it is time to come out, reward with potty (if a dog), playtime, and lots of cuddles.

If your pets get very stressed out in a vehicle, meet with your vet ahead of time to make a plan for making this travel time comfortable.

Make sure your pets have ID tags, consider having them microchipped, take photos of your pet, keep their collars on, and keep them leashed! Also get your pet’s records from your vet to take to the new vet if they will be changing.

If your pets will be moving via an airplane, make arrangements well in advance.

During the Move

On the day of the move, with lots of movement and people going in and out of the house, pets should spend time in their crate or carrier. You don’t want them to take off and try to find a safe and quiet place outside and throw off your move schedule while you try to find them.

Make sure you pack your pets food, medication, bowls, some toys, leash, and anything they will need for the trip. And don’t forget water! Bring a separate gallon of water for your pet. Remember, stress will make them thirsty. Also keep their immunization records and health certificates handy.

They may try to bolt as their crate or carrier is opened, so get them leashed in a safe way before exiting the car or at the airport.

At the New House

Allowing dogs or cats to explore a whole house at once can be overwhelming. Start with one room. Give them food or treats in the room as well as their favorite toy (or even a new toy!) and litterbox for cats. Then gradually show them other rooms, but do this strategically by keeping other doors closed.

Investigate the house for any possible escape hazards. Check windows, existing pet doors, doors that don’t latch, open attic spaces (for cats), and odd little cubbies in closets that stressed pets can get stuck in. Check for mousetraps, chemicals (such as moisture control chemicals or antifreeze in toilets), and other dangers.

Place your pet’s belongings such as food and water bowls, litter boxes, leashes, etc in approximately the same areas as the previous house. Reinforce the positive with lots of playtime and time for closeness. Remember, a tired pet is a good pet.

Also remember to check on local rules and codes regarding pets including leash laws, licensing, health certificates, vaccinations, and more.

If your moving consists of hundreds of miles, here are some tips:

  • If you are driving and need to stop for the night, find a hotel that allows pets and book it ahead of time. Make sure you actually call the hotel and verify their rules regarding pets.
  • Make airplane arrangements well ahead of time. Meet with your vet to determine the best way to make this journey comfortable.
  • There are pet relocation companies that will relocate your pets for you.