Moving with pets can be stressful for the animal and the guardians. We’re discussing several helpful tips that will teach you how to move with pets effectively.

moving with dogs and cats

If you’re a seasoned pet owner, it’s unlikely you’ll forget about your pet when moving. You’ll be considering your pet’s needs when planning what to pack, what to toss, and what to put in storage. However, moving with pets has its challenges.

Spending some quality time with your pet before your move will prove beneficial for you both. There are other things you might overlook, too, that would greatly reduce the strain on your pet’s life during a relocation.

These moving tips for pet owners will remind you how to care for your pet’s needs as well as your own.

1. Maintain your regular routine for as long as possible.

moving with pets across country

Pets are often uncomfortable with change. Help ensure a smooth transition by maintaining your pet’s routine as much as possible. Keep the same schedule for walks, feedings, playing, bedtime, and even cuddling. Pets need a sense of stability, and this is a great way to provide that even in the middle of a transition.

2. Pull out the crate a few weeks before the move.

If you’re not actively crate training, chances are the crate is packed away somewhere. Many families use a crate when moving with pets because it helps keep the pet safe and secure, even when the pet may have anxiety.

Consider re-introducing the crate as their safe space. If your pet isn’t used to being in a crate, pull it out early and give your pet lots of practice before the big day. Introduce a crate a few weeks to a month before the move. Start slowly with 15 minutes at a time without responding to your pet’s objections. Make sure your pet has water and their favorite toy in the crate.

3. Start packing early and do so gradually.

moving animals - moving with a dog

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, another valuable pet moving tip is to help your pet adjust to the moving process by bringing in moving boxes early. This will familiarize your pet with the boxes before moving day. With the same thought in mind, if you plan to put things in storage, do it sooner rather than later.

4. Give your pet a house tour before moving day.

Before you move into your new space, let your pet have a tour if it’s at all possible. This helps your pet become familiar with the sights and smells of the new home. This is also a good time to update your pet’s tags to reflect your new address and phone number.

5. Address veterinary needs with your current vet.

moving with pets tips

Before your move, take your pet to your current veterinarian to make sure he or she is in good health. Your vet can help answer any questions you have about your pet during this time of transition, and she can give you tips to help your particular pet. If you’re moving to a new neighborhood, find a veterinarian in your new neighborhood before you make your move that way you’re prepared for if/when you need an appointment.

6. Keep your pet in a quiet room during the move.

As you are dismantling your home, temporarily keep your pet in a closed, quiet room as far away from the chaos as possible. Place a sign on the door so movers and family members know your pet is in there and that the door should remain closed.

7. Consider hiring a pet sitter for moving day.

moving with a cat

If you have a friend or family member who is willing to pet-sit for the day, that may be a good option. It will keep your pet out of the chaos of moving, and it lessens the chance that your frightened friend will bolt as soon as the door is opened.

8. Keep your cool and don’t project stress onto your pet.

Now is the time to put that crate training to the test. Keeping your pet in a crate on moving day is one of the safest places for them to be. Even if your animal is acting stressed, don’t add fuel to the fire. Keep your cool as much as possible. Animals are sentient and can pick up on subtle displays of emotion more than we might think.

9. Find out if a sedative is necessary.

how to move with pets

Moving day has arrived and it’s time to hit the road. Your veterinarian might prescribe a light sedative to help calm your pet during travels if they have anxiety. Follow the directions and administer that sedative when it’s appropriate.

10. Load your pets into the vehicle last.

When you’re loading your vehicle, load your pet last. Also, wait for the last moment to pack up your companion animals’ toys, bed, food and bowls so that it is comforted by the presence of familiar things for as long as possible.

11. Think ahead for long distance travel.

long distance moving with a dog

If you’re traveling a short distance, you don’t need to make many preparations beyond loading your pet (and crate) into your vehicle. If you’re traveling a long distance, you’ll need to think ahead. For optimum car travel, pets should eat about three hours before riding in a vehicle, so they don’t throw up in the car. Take frequent stops so your pet can drink some water, eat some food (if it’s meal time) and get some exercise.

12. Exercise your pet at the new location.

Take your pet for a walk around your new neighborhood when you arrive at your new home. Yes, you’ll be anxious to unload your belongings. However, your pet will also be anxious about their new surroundings. A walk will help relieve your moving day stress, and your pet will feel more comfortable now that they’ve had a chance to sniff and smell around.

13. Get back into your routine as soon as possible after the move.

moving with cats and dogs

As soon as you possibly can, try to get back to the routine you had at your former home. When surrounded by new sights, sounds and smells, the familiar comfort of the old routine will help your pet feel right at home.

14. Unpack familiar smells and comforts.

When you’re moving into your new space, take time to create a space that feels comfortable for you. For your pet’s well being, make some time to create a cozy space for your pet too. If you have a doggy door, don’t wait to install it. If you have a toy box, unpack it as soon as possible. Surround them with the toys and supplies they’re accustomed to, and they’ll feel right at home in no time.

15. Take time to explore the new neighborhood.

moving with multiple pets

Once the chaos of moving out and moving in has subsided, let your pet explore the sights and smells of its new home by itself. Allowing your pet to sniff around its new home helps everything feel more familiar to them. If your pet decides to hide in their crate or under a bed for a while, that’s perfectly normal. Show your pet where the doggy door or the litter box is, and then exercise patience. Your pet will come out when it’s ready.

16. Don’t freak out if your pet has an accident in the house.

It’s normal for pets to hide when they move into a new house, but it’s also normal to see behavioral problems temporarily escalate. When moving with pets, your animal may refuse a meal, have potty accidents, or even start barking or pacing. Sometimes, pets are overly protective of their owners in a new environment, so be mindful of that as well. Once your furry friend adjusts to their new home, their behaviors should return to normal.

17. Give your pet extra snuggles and attention.

moving long distance with pets

If ever there was a time to shower your pet with some extra attention, this is it. A few extra snuggles go a long way to helping your pet feel comfortable and at home. Even if your pet acts out and behaves poorly, remember that it’s because of the change and not because your pet is naughty. If needed, seek help from your veterinarian or a pet trainer so behaviors can be adjusted. Always keep the focus positive and show lots of love to your furry loved one.

With the monumental burden of moving behind you, now is the time to settle in and reconnect with your precious pet. Play together, share cuddles and rejoice that the chaos of moving is over.

Want more moving tips? Check out these articles:

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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