moving with pets

Moving with Pets: Helpful Tips For a Successful Relocation

Whether you’re moving across town or the country, moving is stressful. And you’re not the only one dealing with the stress of a move — your pet experiences some of the same stress you do! Pets are sensitive to human stress, so if you’re sweating your move, chances are your non-human roommate is feeling it, too.

They’ll be wondering where to go and what to do when belongings are being packed up and when they get to their new home alongside you. The more prepared you are for handling your move with pets, the better off you and your pet will be.

By taking early actions to plan your move and factoring in your pet and their unique needs, you can set yourself up for moving day success.

moving with pets can be easier

Planning is key when moving with pets

The last thing you want during your move is a last-minute surprise, so plan your moving day as far out as possible. Since you’ll have so much to pack and plan for, putting together a comprehensive plan for moving with pets may slip your mind. Here’s how to get the ball rolling and help you move your pets with ease.

Focus on safety

The first priority when moving with a pet is making sure they’re safe. You’ll want to make sure pets are up to date on all vaccinations, and if you’re flying to your new home’s location, get a current health certificate from your veterinarian. You may even want to consider using a pet transportation company to get your pet from point A to point B, so you know they’ll be traveling safely and securely.

If you’re working with professional movers, let them know that you have a pet and that they’re aware of any special needs your pet has. Make sure you keep your pet out of the way of the movers — this may mean keeping your dog on a leash, putting your cat in its crate or having a friend or family member watch your pet while the movers are packing things up and moving boxes around.

Decide how you’re getting to your new home

furry family member enjoys pet relocation services

Figuring out how you’re getting to your final destination is important, especially if you’re moving across the country. You’ll need to decide if it makes sense to fly or drive to your new space. But before you make up your mind, take into consideration what’s best for your pet.

Moving long-distance? You will need to decide to fly or drive to your new home. Check airline pet policies for any specifics regarding your pet if you plan to fly. If the driving distance is four hours or less, plan to drive so you can avoid putting unnecessary stress on your pet from flying.

If the driving distance is longer than that but your pet has medical needs, driving remains the best option so you can stop and give your pet attention when needed. Driving also allows for you to plan bathroom breaks and stops along the way for your pet to stretch out.

Research state and local regulations

If you’re moving out of state or outside of your current ZIP Code, take time to research and read up on any state and local regulations as they pertain to your pet. Nearly every state has laws applicable to dogs, cats, birds and other pets like snakes, so make sure your pets comply with the laws of the state you’re moving to.

You may need to go through a state border inspection, so make sure you have all appropriate health certificates and paperwork for your animal. If you’re traveling to your new home by plane, you’ll need to show a health certificate and paperwork for your pet, too.

Pick up a travel carrier

build a positive association with the pet carrier for furry friends

Regardless of what kind of pet you have, you should plan to pick up a travel carrier. If you’re moving with pets like birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, it will be way easier to remove your pet from their aquarium, cage or vivarium and transport them via a carrier. If your pet isn’t already crate-trained or used to a travel carrier, make sure you start introducing them to a travel crate as soon as you know you’re moving.

Make sure your travel carrier fits with airline guidelines if you’ll be flying. If you’re traveling by car, make sure you have a harness or seatbelt to secure your pet’s crate.

Although it’s tempting to let Fido ride shotgun to your new home, don’t let any animal roam freely in the vehicle. It’s not safe for you or your pets. Keep your snakes, lizards, turtles, cats, rabbits, dogs and frogs in their travel carriers at all times.

Visit the vet

Once you have a moving plan in place, make sure it includes taking your beloved pet to the veterinarian. You’ll want to make sure your pet’s medical records are up to date, and if they need any inoculations or boosters, this would be an ideal time to get them. While at the vet, ask about prescribing your pet medication to help ease their nervous system on moving day.

Your vet can also go over any warning signs or unusual behaviors you should look out for as your beloved companion settles into the new environment. If your pet needs any type of surgery or a serious medical procedure done, wait until after the move to schedule it. You don’t want your pet to go through a difficult recovery while moving, as it can be uncomfortable for them and it will be difficult to manage their pain and medications while moving between new homes.

Review identification tags

Make sure your pets, especially cats and dogs, have identification tags. If your indoor kitty typically doesn’t wear an identification tag, go ahead and get one made and put it on your cat before moving day.

Identification tags should include your pet’s name, your name, your phone number and your address. Since you’re relocating, go ahead and include your new address on the tag, if possible. If your pet gets scared and runs off or gets lost in a new area, someone will be able to contact you with the information on their tag and return your pet safely.

If your pet isn’t already microchipped, you may want to consider that as an identification option. If they do happen to get lost without a collar or their physical tags, they can be identified with their microchip for a safe return to you.

Pack mindfully

pet owners packing up to move to new house

Your pets, especially dogs, cats and birds, will know something is up when you bring home boxes and start packing up your space.

To keep your pets as stress-free as possible, set up designated packing areas in your house. Keep some rooms or areas box-free.

Additionally, stay mindful of what you’re packing. If you’re handling any cleaning supplies or materials that could harm your pets, make sure you don’t leave boxes open or in places your pet could get into.

Create a travel kit specific to your pet

Since you know your animal best, build a pet travel kit specifically for your companion. No matter what type of pet you have, make sure their health certificates go into this kit. Here’s what else you should consider adding:

  • Pet’s regular food
  • Travel-sized or collapsable food and water dishes
  • Blanket or towel
  • Favorite toy
  • A litter box
  • Treats
  • Paper towels (for cleaning up messes)
  • Plastic bags (to clean up after your pet)
  • Prescribed medication from your veterinarian
  • A leash
  • An extra bottle of water
  • Spray bottle (for pets that need to stay moist)

Think of anything that will make them more comfortable throughout the move. In some ways, pets are like babies and toddlers — they can do very little for themselves, so it’s up to you to make sure they have everything they need.

Move through moving day

Ready or not, moving day will arrive with a vengeance. Ideally, you have already taken care of everything that needs to get done for your move, including anything pertaining to your beloved pet.

Here are day-of tips for moving with pets:

  • Put someone in charge of your pet. Whether it’s you, a friend or hired pet sitter, appoint someone to take care of your pet’s needs for the whole day. This person needs to safely and securely keep the pet out of the way and help with any needs like feeding or walking.
  • Reduce food intake for your pet by one third the day before and the day of your move. This will help quell their stomach, whether you’re going by car or airplane.
  • If you have a prescription for calming medication from your veterinarian, administer it to your pet at least 30 minutes before your movers arrive.
  • Find a room that you can put your pet in with its crate and toys that’s separate from the chaos of movers, boxes and heavy lifting.
  • Remind movers and anyone helping you that you have a pet. Tell them where your pet is, so they can use extra caution if they need to go near the area.
  • Double-check that your pet travel kit is ready to go.
  • Make sure identification tags are on your pets.
  • Secure all crates and cages from the outside. Make sure your dog can’t easily open the door to his crate and that your boa constrictor can’t move the lid off its carrier.
  • Stay aware of the temperature outside throughout the entire moving process, especially if you have pets that are sensitive to extreme heat or cold.
  • When you get to your new space, don’t let your pet roam freely right away. Section your pet off to one room, so they can get acclimated while you move in. Wait until all the movers are gone and then slowly introduce your pet to other spaces.

Remember to stay calm and take things slow for your pet on the day of the move, especially if they are elderly or have special medical needs. If you’re running around like crazy, it could make your pet nervous as they’ll likely sense your distress, so try to keep your mood and demeanor as relaxed as possible when around them.

cat sleeping after long distance move

Help your pet settle in

It doesn’t matter if you’re a human or a pet newt, the moving process takes a lot out of you. Give yourself and your pet some time to settle into your new home. The more relaxed you are in your new environment, the more relaxed your pet will be.

To help your beloved pet find its footing, arrange a space exclusively for your pet to make theirs in your new home. The more this area is similarly arranged to the last place, the better. If you need to set up your frog’s vivarium, for example, aim to recreate an environment as close to how it previously was.

Animals, especially dogs and cats, will find comfort in the scent of your old place, so make sure to not wash your dog’s favorite blanket. During this settling-in period, keep a close eye on your pet as they get used to its new space.

Yes, your pet will probably experience some stress on moving day, but if you notice any weird behavior or anything causing you concern, call your veterinarian immediately. Also, if you moved to a new area — go ahead and start looking for a new veterinarian practice that can help take care of your pet and all its future needs.

Home sweet home

Whether it takes a few days or a month to turn your new space into a place that feels like home, at least you’ll have your beloved pet! While daunting, moving with pets is 100 percent worth it. They’re family, after all.


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