3 min read

9 Practical Tips For Moving with Pets


Written by Leslie Ingraham

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 07/07/2021, edited: 04/03/2023


Did you know that moving can be as stressful as a divorce or illness? It’s important to remember that it’s stressful for your pets, too. Pets don’t like change, and they take cues from you to know what to expect in their world. When something major changes in their lives, it’s up to you to ease their anxiety

How can you help your pet have a stress-free move? By keeping your furry bud in mind throughout the moving process. Here are some furbulous tips to help you keep your precious pals as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

white dog in a cardboard box - 9 Practical Tips For Moving with Pets

Prepare your pet before the move so you’re not in a frenzy

  • Bring boxes in well before the move to allow pets to get used to them.
  • Obtain records and a supply of medications from your vet before the move.
  • Update your pets’ ID tags and microchip information. 
  • If possible, have cable and internet installed in your new home before you get there, as familiar music and pet-friendly TV can soothe your purr-buddies.

Pack with pets in mind

  • Take time to pack, and build in frequent breaks for cuddle time or exercise. 
  • Choose a room to pack last where pets can escape while you pack. 
  • Stack packed boxes with the heaviest on bottom to avoid injuries if your dog brushes by or your kitty jumps to the top of the stack.
  • Pack a “moving in” bag with food, kitty litter, meds, chews, and toys, along with a favorite blanket or t-shirt so there’s a “fur-miliar” scent to comfort them. 
  • Hire a dog walker or sitter to keep your pets busy while you work.

tabby cat sleeping in open carrier

Make a plan to keep pets safe on moving day

  • Designate a secure room with a door for the furries to stay in until it’s time to go. 
  • If your pupster gets frantic at a closed door, try putting a gate across the entryway so they can see you. 
  • If you plan to use a crate or pet carrier, obtain it early and practice.
  • Take your doggo or cat to a friend’s house, or take advantage of Wag! Boarding services. 

Make moving day easy on pets

  • Bring along a no-spill water bowl or bottle, and plenty of water.
  • Feed pets 4 to 5 hours before the move to minimize side effects from anxiety and motion sickness, but be prepared with wipes and paper towels. 
  • Designate a family member or friend to check in with pets throughout the moving out process.
  • Move pets and their items from their safe haven and their “moving in” bag last.

white and black dog riding in a dog car seat

Plan a pet-friendly move by vehicle

  • Secure pets in by safety belts, harnesses, carriers or crates.
  • Make extra stops so pets can stretch their legs and do their business. 
  • For long moves, have dog-friendly hotel rooms reserved before you leave.
  • Be prepared for pet anxiety or car sickness, and have remedies on hand.
  • Remember to take toys and chews.
  • Can't travel with your pet? Book a trusted pet transportation company such as CitizenShipper to safely bring your pet to you.

Create a stress-free move by plane

  • Learn what you need to know about airline rules and regs around pet transport, immunization requirements and fees ahead of time.
  • Find out if your small dog or cat can travel with you in the cabin.
  • Discuss non-medication strategies with your vet if your pet needs to travel in cargo.

man, woman and dog in new house with moving boxes stacked to one side

Make the new house familiar right away

  • Put the “fur-miliar” t-shirt and blanket in the house before your pet goes in.
  • Rub scented t-shirt or blanket on the baseboards in the house to spread the familiar scents throughout. 
  • Unpack your pets’ belongings first. Water and food bowls are signs of home. 
  • For safety, crate your fur-buddy when you’re away from your new home. 
  • Look for signs of separation anxiety and respond patiently.
  • Consider using pet pheromone products to help pets adjust.

Get to know your new home

  • Spend time exploring the new house with your pet, giving treats and positive reinforcement along the way.
  • Give cats new places to watch the animals and neighbors out the window.
  • Introduce your pupper to the neighborhood with walks, and visit nearby parks.
  • Check for dog-friendly local restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops.

brown rabbit and turtle greeting each other on a wood floor

Consider individual pets’ needs

  • Older dogs and cats may need to travel differently, so consider their medical constraints.
  • Check with your veterinarian about how to safely move fish, guinea pigs, birds, and other pets that may present different challenges. 
  • Consider giving fish to friends before moving, and getting new ones at your destination if travel time will be more than an hour or two.

Anticipating what our fur-babies need to stay physically and emotionally comfortable during a move can help make it relatively stress-free, and even fun! Just remember all pets need time to adjust, and soon they’ll be exploring and playing in their new place. Welcome home!

Moving can be challenging, but Wag! has you covered! Download the Wag! app to book a drop-in visit or walk from one of our pet caregivers to help your pet feel right at home. 

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