Successfully Moving with Your Pet

A dog looks up at its owner

Even when the new place you’re moving to is a better fit for you and your animal, moving can be confusing, scary, disorienting, and cause a large amount of anxiety for pets. To create a smooth transition and mitigate these issues, consider the following tips.

Choose a Pet-Friendly Neighborhood

When you move to a new area, you want to make sure you are aware of how pet-friendly the neighborhood is. One of the best ways to do this is to simply search for pet-friendly neighborhoods in your area — for example, “top pet-friendly neighborhoods in Seattle” or “top pet-friendly neighborhoods in Los Angeles.” In some cases, there are particular rules that prohibit pets or make living in the area with pets less than ideal.

You should check state animal laws before moving to an area. It is also important to check local laws in your area. If you are someone who owns (or plans to own) an exotic animal, you should also research the various exotic animal laws in each state. Some states prohibit exotic animals, while others have restrictions on certain species, numerical restrictions, or housing guidelines.

When choosing a pet-friendly neighborhood, it is also important to search for pet-friendly housing. Some rentals do not allow pets, and others have specific guidelines for living in the area with pets. In some cases, relocation help is available for individuals trying to find pet-friendly neighborhoods. Be sure to check in with your landlord or rental company to ask about the resources available to you.

Keep Your Pet in a Quiet and Secure Place

When you are packing boxes and in the process of the move itself, you should aim to keep your pet in a more secluded, quiet area. This could mean putting your pet in a specific room, in the backyard, or even keeping your pet at a friend’s house or boarding facility that they are familiar with. Since some pets do not like change — especially cats — keeping your pet in a quiet, familiar, secure place can help mitigate the discomfort of moving.

It is also important to consider that keeping your pet in a secluded, secure space during the move can help you move more efficiently without worry that your pet is getting out when you (or movers) are in the process of moving your things.

During transit, you should also aim to keep your pet in a quiet secure place. A kennel or carrying crate is a good way to go about this. You can use blankets for comfort, and to help reduce overwhelming noise and visuals.

Contact Your Vet and Update Any Info

Before moving, you should contact your pet’s veterinarian and include them in your moving process. This visit should primarily serve as a way to gather vet records and prescriptions for the interim while finding a new vet once you have moved. Talking to your vet can also be a great way to gather recommendations for vets in the area you are moving to.

It is important to note that you should avoid using sedatives for your pets without a doctor’s recommendation or sign-off. Acepromazine, or “ace,” is commonly used as a sedative, yet there are many medical professionals who have apprehensions towards its use.

Plan and Prepare for your Trip

If you are driving, it is important to prepare your pet for the road trip. Many pets spend little to no time in a car or crate, so a long road trip crammed with a car full of things can be overwhelming and cause anxieties. Preparing pets for unfamiliar locations can smooth the entire moving process. Aim to start the acclimation process a month prior to the move. Use the following tips to familiarize your pet with both crates and cars:

  • Avoid using crates for punishment: this can confuse animals by making them think they are in trouble during the move;
  • Make the crate comfortable: add blankets, dog beds/mats, and various comfort items;
  • Take your pet on trips in the car/crate: take your animal on small trips to ease into your move (especially if you have a long trip). Start small like trips around the block, and progress as your pet gets more comfortable;
  • Use treats: you can use treats to reinforce any progress during the acclimation process.

Introduce Your Pet to Their New Home

Introducing your pet to their new home is critical for creating a smooth transition into unfamiliar areas. Since new things can be a lot for pets, try to introduce the pets after you have moved your things if possible. There are fully furnished apartments or houses you could look into to help avoid this issue. Instead of worrying about moving your things and setting up, you can focus on comforting your pet during this time.

Introducing your pet to their new home goes beyond your private residence, it should also include surrounding areas. Check out dog parks, pet conventions, and explore pet-friendly options around where you live.

You also want to be sure to make your new place pet safe. Make sure to keep harmful chemicals away, block off any unsafe areas, get rid of any choking hazards, avoid plants that are not pet-friendly, and make sure your windows and doors are secured.

Pet Specific Tips

Each pet has its own needs when moving, so you want to be aware of various pet-specific tips. Regardless of what kind of pet you have, checking on them often is a great idea.

Moving with a Dog

Try to provide a large amount of physical exercise before your trip. Make sure your dog has time-consuming toys such as a kong, or a bone so that you can keep them entertained during the trip. You should also stick to your normal pet routine as closely as you can.

Moving with a Cat

As mentioned above, cats do not enjoy change, so it is important to attempt to keep things as normal as possible during the move. Avoid feeding your cat a large meal prior to travel, and make sure that you clean the home to get rid of any pet smells from previous tenants/owners.

Moving with Fish

A move can sometimes be fatal for fish. It is important to transport the fish in a sealed bag that is full of water from their old tank. Do not try to move the tank with water and fish in it. For more moving tips, you can reach out to a local pet store or aquarium.

Moving with a Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs need continuous access to hay in order to help with digestion and dental health. Be sure to provide enough food for the entirety of the move.

Moving with a Bird

When you are moving with a bird, be sure to keep it contained in a proper carrying case. Although many birds will stay perched on your shoulder, in high-stress situations like moving, this may not be the case.