Tips for moving with pets

Turning Points 4 min read

Moving to a new home is an exciting time for most people. But moving can be a source of anxiety for your beloved pets, especially cats and dogs. Many animals thrive on familiarity and routine. Moving with pets can upset those routines and can leave them feeling stressed. In addition to the difficulty of seeing our pets suffer, their anxiety can complicate the move.

Here are a few tips for moving with a cat or dog that can help everyone feel less stress during the move and settle into the new home quickly.

Preparing to move with pets

Before moving with a pet, you should put a few things on your to-do list. Moving with a cat isn’t that different from moving with a dog. In both cases, you should prepare them for the journey, especially if you’re traveling a long way. Other essential steps include getting informed about your new home, updating contact information, and packing correctly for your pet’s well-being. As you prepare, remember the following steps:

1. Crate train

Start crate training as soon as possible, especially if you need to crate your animal for traveling. If you’re flying with your pet, you can prepare your dog by driving them through a car wash with similar sound effects, speaking calmly to them the entire time. A few days before moving day, reduce their food consumption, so they don’t have a full stomach on the plane or in the car.

2. Update your pet’s information

If you haven’t already, get your pet microchipped. Make sure they have proper identification. Your new address and contact info should be on their tag. Having an ID tag is especially important when moving with a dog or an outdoor cat because they are more likely to get lost than indoor cats. If you have pet health insurance or are considering pet insurance, update your provider with your new address.

3. Learn about your new area

If you’re moving pets to a different city or state, check the local laws to ensure you’re aware of anything unusual. Find a new veterinarian and send or bring them copies of your pet’s records. Before you leave, speak with your current vet about ways to reduce stress for your pet during the move and if you should consider pet anxiety medication for the move.

4. Pack with your pet in mind

Have a plan for moving day. Assemble your moving boxes early so your animals can get used to them. Put their carrier out a few days beforehand, with their favorite toys, blanket, and treats inside. Most importantly, keep to your daily routine as much as possible. A familiar routine is especially important in terms of exercise: keeping their energy at manageable levels will be helpful on moving day.

How to move with pets

When moving with pets, stick to the plan to limit confusion, and take steps to help them feel safe both during the moving process and once you arrive at the new house.

1. Create a safe space and minimize anxiety

Designate a quiet spot for your pet with their most cherished items. When you move pets, it helps to load their items last, so they have a safe space while you work. Packing pet gear at the end makes it accessible if you need something during the trip. Remember to feed them lightly, so they don’t have a full stomach during this anxious time.

2. Avoid the chaos and get some exercise

Ideally, you’ll get your pet out of the house for most of the day for some exercise or play time to burn up extra energy. If you hired movers, you could do that yourself. Otherwise, ask a family member or friend for help. If all else fails, prepare to crate your pet while you pack up the house and moving truck. You may want to use anxiety medication if needed, at the direction of your vet.

3. Make your new home pet-friendly

The first thing you should do after moving house with pets is to inspect your new place for safety concerns and pet-proof it as soon as possible. Don’t wash your pet’s things. Familiar scents will help them feel at home. Create a spot specifically for them, filled with their favorite things, and, if possible, set up your furniture in a similar layout to the old house.

Other considerations for moving with a dog or cat

After moving with pets, you’ll probably need to make some adjustments but try to keep your new routine like the old one. Remember that even the most well-adjusted pets might need extra attention as they adapt to their new surroundings. If you are moving with a dog, it’s good to meet your neighbors and introduce yourself and your pets. Dogs may benefit from finding a doggy daycare to meet playmates in the area but keep them on a leash until they’re familiar with the area.

If you’re moving into a rental home with your pets, familiarize yourself with any pet rules the building has. Renters may want to personalize the new place to make it a better fit for their animal friend — especially if you’re living in an apartment with pets that need more space or exercise — but check your lease before you make any significant changes or pet-friendly home renovations.

Most importantly, if your pet doesn’t get it right away, don’t worry! That’s perfectly normal. No matter how far you’re moving or what your new place is like, the key to a successful move with pets is patience and giving them time to adjust. Soon you will settle in, and everyone will feel comfortable and at home before long.

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