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Dog waiting whilst owners unpack new house

The essentials

  • Consider your pet when choosing a new home — Not all homes are pet-friendly! Keep your pets in mind when choosing your new digs and look out for features that will cater to them.
  • Plan your upcoming move with pets in mind — The act of boxing things up and moving them out of the home is stressful for your pet, so consider their comfort throughout the process.
  • Create a pet-friendly environment — As you get settled in your new place, support your pet by creating an environment that’s conducive to fur-babies.

Moving ranks in the top five for life’s most stressful events. Your environment is disrupted, you’ll have to make another house a home, and get your bearings in the new area. All of this is true for your pet, too – minus the ability to express how they’re feeling. No doubt pet owners do a lot of preparation before the big day, but in case you need some extra help keeping your fur baby in mind,  here are a few simple steps that can ease the stress of moving with pets.

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8 tips for moving with pets

Whether moving one fur-baby or moving with multiple pets, we all want to do our best to support them. Use these tips to prepare and create the best experience for all throughout the moving process.

1. Choose a pet-friendly moving company

Your pet will be anxious on the big day. The best way is to arrange care for your pet (like a pet sitter or family member) that will keep them out of the house, but that isn’t always possible. Before move-in day, talk with the company to make sure your movers are pet-friendly and make sure they know what kind (and breed) of animal you’ll have at home. The more comfortable everyone is with each other, the better any potential interactions will be. The last thing you need is a mover who is terrified of your animal and an animal that is stressed and protective.

2. Find pet-friendly housing

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to double-check a potential home or apartment for pet-friendliness. While a home may appear ideal for a pet, it’s worth introducing yourself to potential neighbors or using apps like Nextdoor to truly explore the climate. Finding out on the front-end if your new neighbor is a cat person who hates dogs, for example, can save you a lot of headache down the road. Apartment dwellers can scan the surrounding area to see what life outside the apartment could look like for their pet.

3. Prepare and update your pet’s information

In some cases, you may need to provide your new landlord or Homeowner’s Association with documentation about your pet. It’s especially important that your pet isn’t carrying any diseases into their new home or apartment building. You can easily obtain proof of vaccination from your veterinarian, which is a good time to make sure your pet is up to date on their vaccines. You’ll also likely need a letter of good health along with temperment documentations, which is required by many mobile home parks, multifamily dwellings and HOAs.

No one wants to think about their pet getting lost, but it’s important to prepare for the worst, especially when you’re relocating. You’ll want to update your pet’s microchip registry contact information and ID tags to match your new address and phone number.

4. Address pet anxiety

An important aspect of moving with pets is potential anxiety. If your pet is already prone to anxiety, you can bet that moving is going to trigger it. Even the most mellow pet (or human!) can experience anxiety with a move.

The good news is, there are a variety of options for an anxious pet. Resist the temptation to just throw your pet a Benadryl on moving day; instead, talk with your vet about dosing and best options. Whether you use a natural method like pet CBD or catnip, or go with prescription medications, you’ll want to have what you need on hand well before the day of.

Some behavior medications take several days to weeks to obtain good levels and attain the desired effect. Starting sooner rather than later will be needed.

Bruce Armstrong


5. Gradually introduce moving supplies

A major change (particularly an abrupt one) can be stressful for your pet. Cats and anxious dogs, in particular, may struggle as their environment starts to shift in preparation for moving. To help ease your pet into the idea, bring noticeable supplies, like boxes, over time. You might consider storing boxes in your trunk and bringing them into the current home gradually. That way, as you begin packing things up, your pet will have had time to adjust and already be accustomed to the containers.

Store moving supplies in one location, preferably where your pet doesn’t spend most of their time, and allow for exploration to get used to the sights and smells of all that packing material.

6. Maintain your pet’s routine as best you can

In the midst of moving with pets, life can become chaotic. Try not to neglect your pet’s usual routine to maintain some sense of normalcy. If your pet isn’t usually in a crate for long periods of time, now isn’t the time to start. For dogs, consider hiring a walker or having a friend take them to the dog park when you’re taking care of necessities, rather than confining them. Remember your pet’s needs for exercise, and make sure to stick to the usual sleeping arrangements even as items start dwindling. Pets will really need a safe space during this time.

7. Pack your pet an essentials bag

Even after all your belongings are in the new space, getting settled in will take time. Rather than relying on finding your pet’s belongings among many boxes, pack your pet an essentials bag and keep it with you. That way, you can be sure that your pet will have their comfort items and daily needs met even if the move gets complicated. Remember items like food, treats, bowls, medicines, favorite toys, harnesses and bedding. Even the water your pet is used to should be available to help transition to the new water after settling. You might consider purchasing a pet travel bag especially for your pet that will help pack all that you need.

8. Consider your mode of transportation

Whether pet owners are embarking on local moves or crossing state lines, moving will require some mode of transportation. When moving with pets, take their transportation into consideration and plan accordingly. If at all possible, don’t bring your pet until your new environment is set up. If your pet does need to travel with you on the day of, try to take them on the car ride with you and utilize a proper carrier, as well as keeping an eye out for motion sickness.

Newer regulations can require certified veterinary health certificates for interstate travel, and should be kept in the vehicle with your pet.

When flying is necessary, make sure your pet has the right crate for the airline. Make sure they are healthy and calm enough to fly, and have all the documentation required (think health certificate and immunization records).

👉 If your pet is flying, an essentials bag is more important than ever. Your pet’s belongings have the potential to get lost just the same as your own.

How to settle your pet in your new home

Once you’ve done all the planning, packing, and moving, you can focus on helping your pet settle into the new house. It can take a little time to adjust, but your pet will begin to acclimate to their surroundings with your help.

Here’s how you can be a supportive fur-parent.

Help your pet adjust to the space. You can help your pet adjust by showing them around their new space and pointing out where familiar objects are, such as a litter box, food bowl, and bed. Stay close to your pet as they explore indoors and out, and give them plenty of reassurance and attention. Your patience and presence will go a long way.

Pet-proof your new home. Secure your new area with the necessary safety precautions like gates and latches and moving hazards out of reach. When you’re unsure what pet-proofing needs to be done, get down on all fours and look around. It may sound silly, but getting on your pet’s level can bring possible dangers into perspective.

In some vacant housing, rodenticides or pesticides may have been used, so make sure these potential hazards are out of reach of your pet or completely removed from the home.

Bruce Armstrong


Re-establish a routine. In keeping as much normalcy as possible, start to re-establish a daily routine. Simple things like leading your pet to their food bowl at the time they are accustomed to will help them adjust. If your pet is used to a walk or a treat at a certain time, try to keep it. Some changes might be necessary, but whatever can be kept should be. A normal routine will help your pet settle in.

Slowly introduce the new neighborhood. A new internal living space is a lot to get used to, let alone a whole new world outside. Give your pet time to adjust before slowly introducing their new outdoor surroundings. Try walking short distances on the same route for a week before venturing any further. There are plenty of smells, creatures, sights and sounds for your pet to take in, so don’t do too much too soon.

How to adjust and overcome complications

Depending on the distance of your move, finding new resources and medical care for your pet may be on your to-do list. You’ll likely be able to find pet stores and dog parks in your new area with a simple internet search or by asking around. Just make sure you’re not throwing your pet into too many new surroundings all at once.

If you’re moving with a senior pet or overly anxious pet particularly, make sure you’re monitoring their health during the transition. Talk with your vet before the move about any signs of distress or complications to look out for. You may even be able to get a referral for a new vet from your current vet. Have some offices in mind to try out before landing in your new area.

Overall, the main thing your pet needs is your love and attention as you transition to your new home. Your pet will be a comfort to you in a new space, and you can be a comfort for them as well. By taking just a few extra steps, both you and your pet will be happily settled in no time.

Frequently asked questions

How do you move long distance with pets?

It’s a good idea to do your research and talk with your vet about how to keep your pet calm and cared for during long-distance moves. Car travel is preferred over flying because you can keep your pet with you and provide plenty of potty breaks.

How do I move a cat in with a dog?

Start by keeping the animals separate and providing individual feeding locations. Slow and controlled introductions over days or weeks will help the two animals acclimate. Keep interactions to short periods of time.

How do you move your pet to another country?

The first step is to thoroughly research local laws and regulations for pet intake in your destination so there are no surprises in the new country. One of the best practices is to consider utilizing a pet transportation company for your furry friend. Also, international health certificates are generally required and can be complicated, long and time consuming. The best practice is to start months in advance and utilize your veterinarian for those things.

How should you move dogs across the country?

When the moving process involves multiple states, it’s preferred that you drive rather than fly with your pet. If you must fly, make sure you have the right crate and essentials bag. Talk with your vet about how to keep your pet calm and cared for adjusting to a new city.