Moving your household is difficult, whether you’re moving across town, to another state, or across international waters. And while moving might be tough for you, it can also be challenging for your furry friends. While you can’t protect your precious pet from all the difficulties of a big move, a little extra planning and patience can go a long way toward making the process easier for them.
In this article, we’ll break the moving process into three stages and give you valuable tips on how to keep your pet calm and safe during your move.
Table of Contents
- Stage 1: The Pet Moving Planning Stage
- Stage 2: Handling Your Pet on Day of the Move
- Stage 3: Settling Your Pet Into the New House
- You Can Move Successfully With Your Pet
Stage 1: The Pet Moving Planning Stage
In the run-up to the move, you’ll have a lot on your plate, but don’t forget your pet. Pre-move pet care is essential for a smooth move. The work you put in in advance will pay off on the day of the move.
Tip 1: Get Your Pet Used to Their Crate or Carrier
You may be able to transport a smaller pet directly in its enclosure, but others, like cats, rabbits, and some dogs, will likely need to be placed in a crate or carrier. To help lower your pet’s stress on moving day, get them used to their carrier beforehand.
Bring the carrier into the house and leave it open so your pet can explore it. Most animals are very attuned to scents, so put their favorite toy or a piece of bedding into the carrier to help it smell like home. Put the carrier near their feeding dish and put treats into it so your pet associates the carrier with positive experiences.
Tip 2: Know the Regulations of Your Destination
Your destination may have specific rules related to pets, including vaccination requirements or restrictions on certain pets. (For example, residents of California are not allowed to own ferrets, hedgehogs, or sugar gliders without a permit.)
Check the rules of your state, city, and town. If you’re moving overseas, figure out what paperwork you need to complete to move your pet. Some countries also require pets to be quarantined for a certain period.
Tip 3: Schedule a Visit With Your Vet
A few weeks before your move, make a vet appointment to get your pet updated on all their vaccinations. Request proof of vaccination and copies of all your pet’s medical records for your new vet. It’s also a good idea to request a refill of all your pet’s medications.
Finally, if your pet suffers from anxiety, your veterinarian should be able to recommend supplements, behavioral training, or medication to help your animal friend during the move.
Tip 4: Square Away Your Transportation
How is your pet going to get to your new home? If you aren’t moving far, driving your pet in your vehicle will probably be easiest. However, if the distance is long, consider working with a pet freight company that specializes in transporting pets by plane, rail, or other options. (Learn more about flying with your pet.)
If you are choosing to drive and won’t reach your destination in a single day, double-check that your overnight accommodations are pet-friendly. Many hotels, Airbnbs, and motels have pet restrictions.
Tip 5: Pack a To-Go Bag for Your Pet
In the hectic days before a move, it’s easy to misplace things as you pack up your belongings. Make sure to assemble a “to-go” bag for your pet that is easy to find and bring with you during the move.
Here are a few things to pack:
- Your pet’s carrier
- A water and food dish
- Pet first aid kit
- Favorite toys, blankets, and/or comfort item
- Poop bags (if applicable)
- Harness and leash (if available)
Stage 2: Handling Your Pet on Day of the Move
Things often get crazy on the big move day. If you have friends or movers assisting with the process, a lot of people will be walking through your house and opening doors. If your pet gets stressed, they could bolt. Here’s how to keep them calm through the move:
Tip 6: Help Them Burn Off Energy
If possible, spend some time playing with your pet. Burning off energy will help them deal with stress and will hopefully make them more calm during the move. Use your cat’s favorite laser pointer, or take your pup for a short jog around the neighborhood before the movers arrive.
Tip 7: Put Your Pet in a Closed-Off Space
You don’t want your pets underfoot when you or your movers are grabbing boxes or lifting heavy items. Clear out a small, quiet room in the house and put your pet in that room. The further it is from the action, the better.
Put your pet’s carrier or crate in the room along with toys and bedding that will help it be comfortable. If you’ve achieved canine crate training success, the crate can be an excellent choice for your pet. Make sure to put a big “Do Not Open” sign on the door to your pet’s room.
Tip 8: Keep Your Pet Out of the House
Some pets get extra anxious with strangers in the house. An alternative option is to bring them to a friend’s house or to sign your cat or dog up for boarding during the moving process, keeping them out of the action so you won’t have to worry about them escaping.
Stage 3: Settling Your Pet Into the New House
Whew! You made it to your new house, but your work isn’t done yet. Before you start unpacking, help your pet settle into their new home.
Tip 9: Pet Proof the House
Before letting your pet roam the house, make sure the house and yard are safe for your furry (or feathered or scaled) friend. Here are a few things to do:
- Check that all doors and windows are secured.
- Make sure all windows have screens.
- Hide away any chords (especially if your pet is a chewer).
- Get rid of any pest control traps or poison baits.
- Pull up any plants in the yard that could make your pet sick.
- Check that your fence doesn’t have any holes, loose boards, or broken latches.
- Close up any gaps or nooks in the house.
Tip 10: Slowly Introduce Your Pet to the House
Take your time introducing your pet to the house. To begin, put them in a single room with their favorite toys and bedding. Give them time to sniff and explore. Gradually let them into additional rooms until they feel comfortable in the entire house.
Tip 11: Update Their Information
Update your pet’s ID tags and ID chip information. When some pets feel scared or uncertain, there’s a higher tendency to run. If the worst should happen and your pet becomes lost, you want to make it as easy as possible to get them back.
Tip 12: Re-Establish Your Pet’s Routine
As much as possible, stick to your pet’s routine after the move. Many pets, including cats and dogs, are very schedule-oriented. Try to maintain their feeding time, playtime, and walk schedule.
Tip 13: Give Your Pets Love and Attention
You’ll have a lot to do as you establish yourself in your new home, but don’t forget about your animals. Give your pets lots of attention and praise so they begin to associate the house with positive experiences. If your pet is extra anxious and your schedule allows, stay home for a few days so they can spend lots of time with you.
Tip 14: Observe Your Pet’s Behavior
It’s normal for your pet to be out of sorts for a few days or weeks after a move. Anxious dogs may chew more frequently or seek your attention more often. Cats may hide for a few days until they feel safe in their new home.
Give them time, patience, and love, and most will adapt quickly to their new digs. However, also keep an eye out for behavior that could signify depression. Look for:
- Aggressive behavior.
- Extra destructive behavior.
- Reduced interest.
- Tiredness or lethargy.
- Incessant whining, barking, meowing, or calling.
If you notice signs of depression, make an appointment with your new vet to seek treatment options.
You Can Move Successfully With Your Pet
No matter how you slice it, moving is going to be stressful for you and your pet. However, with a little extra preparation, lots of treats and cuddles, and some patience, you can make your pet’s experience easier. The smoother the move, the more likely your pet will adapt well to your new home.
Good luck with your move!