Pets are important members of the family, and we understand how important it is to take the needs of the family pet into consideration when you and your family relocate. Uprooting yourself and your family can be stressful for you, but moving can be traumatic for the family pet.


       Pets may react to the stress of the move in very undesirable ways. They may run off or engage in misbehavior that they wouldn’t otherwise. For pets that never venture outside, like strictly indoor cats, the move will be jarring, and the removal and rearrangement of the indoor landscape means that you have, essentially, changed their entire world. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make the process less stressful for all involved.


General Tips:

  • One of the most important things you can do for your pet is to make sure that they are wearing proper identification and any required license tags in case they get lost.
  • Make sure that your pet’s shots are up to date, and remember to request a copy of Fido’s medical records while you’re at the vet’s office.
  • Keep a close eye on pets in the weeks and days prior to the move. All of the unusual activity might make them nervous. If they are feeling stressed, they might misbehave or run off. You might want to consider having pets boarded during the most hectic days of the move.
  • Take along a health certificate and a rabies vaccination certificate when you move. It will be important to be able to show that the vet certified your pet as in good health and up to date on their rabies vaccinations when you go to your new vet, when you seek boarding arrangements, or when you cross state lines.
  • If you plan to move across state lines, it is important that you check on the regulations regarding the transport of pets beforehand. Contact the state veterinarian or State Department of Animal Husbandry for the specific requirements regarding the entry of animals into the state. For example, Hawaii requires a 120-day quarantine for animals entering their state.
  • After you move, remember to update the address and contact information for your pet if they have been electronically micro-chipped.
  • Once you’ve settled into your new home, give your pets time to become used to their new surroundings. To help prevent the loss of your pets, it is probably not a good idea to allow them free range until they are accustomed to their new neighborhood.


Preparing for Your Move:

Plan Your Packing

       Try to stretch out packing for your move over the course of several weeks. Try to avoid stress and panic as you approach moving day, since animals pick up easily on our emotions and this can affect their behavior.


Travel Arrangements

       Whether you would prefer to have your pet transported to your destination by a company who specializes in this service, or you know that you will have to transport your pet via airplane, we advise you to make the arrangements well in advance. For airplane travel, make the arrangements for your pet over a month in advance, and ask about the regulations involving pet travel. Try to choose a nonstop flight so your pet is exposed to the least possible handling and fewest climate and air pressure changes.


Veterinary Appointment

       Three to four weeks prior to moving, request copies of your pet’s veterinary records, rabies vaccination certificate, health certificate, and copies of prescriptions your pet may be on (including prescription foods). Make sure all of your pet’s shots are current. If you have a senior animal, ask whether it would be beneficial to administer a sedative to your pet before traveling. Definitely ask your vet if they are can recommend a veterinary clinic in your new location.


Maintain Routines

       Before moving, keep your pet’s routines (walks, feeding, playtime) as normal as possible to reduce stress. Maintaining normalcy as much as possible allows pets to feel they have control over their environment. Pets may display behavioral changes and even become ill due to the stress of the move, so make sure that you try to give them just as much attention as you usually do.


Make Room

       Consider designating one of the rooms in your house or apartment as the “pet room” for move day and the days preceding the move. Gather all of your pets’ things in the room including their favorite items, food and water, and litter boxes for cats. Leave the carriers you intend to use to transport your pets on moving day in the room and open them so that pets become used to them. On moving day, post a large sign on the closed door that says, “Pets: Do Not Open” in clear, large letters so that moving staff or friends do not accidentally release your pets. An alternative to this would be to choose to board your pets or to find a “sitter” for your pets who could watch them and keep them out of harm’s way during the move.


Tags and Leashes

       Take the time to buy or make tags with your pets’ names and your new address and phone number. Attach them securely to collars that fit appropriately. Invest in leashes for both dogs and cats, if you do not already have them. Make sure that you have the pet supplies you’ll need if you are taking a long road trip or traveling by plane.


During the Move:

       Traveling by car to your new destination with your pets in tow doesn’t have to be a circus-like experience, and if you prepare and plan beforehand, it won’t be.


       Obtain crates large enough to house your animals with their food and water (and a small litter box for cats). Take breaks about every two hours and allow your pets to get out and roam around (on leashes, of course) and get some fresh air.


       It is important to make sure that you maintain a temperature in the car that is comfortable for your pets, as well as for you. You should never leave your animals alone in the car – even if the windows are cracked, this can be fatal.


       Special considerations should be given to birds or smaller animals (hamsters, guinea pigs, etc) since they are far more susceptible to ill effects from drafts or hot temperatures than larger animals. To keep smaller animals calmer and safer, you might want to cover their cages. Make sure you remove the covers when you stop for breaks, and only leave water dispensers in the cages during the break.


Travel Checklist

  • Medications and prescriptions
  • Veterinary records, certificates, and recent photos
  • Beds/Bedding (Pillows, towels, other crate liners)
  • Your pets’ food and water bowls, resealable lids, and a can opener
  • Your pets’ usual foods
  • Plenty of water from the home you left (changing their water source can upset their digestion – not a good idea on a long car ride)
  • Plastic bags and scoops for dogs
  • Litter boxes for cats
  • Leashes for cats and dogs
  • Cage covers for small animals and birds
  • Plenty of paper towels to clean up messes
  • Toys, chew bones, treats
  • Enough provisions for each day of your trip and the first day (or two) at your new home


Your New Home:

Moving In & Settling In

       Just as you did while you were moving out, you should set aside a room for your pets while you’re moving into your new home. This will keep pets secure while you or the moving staff bring in belongings and place them. Try to get the room set up with all of their things (food, water, beds, toys, litter boxes, etc) before you open their crates and let them out.


       For the first few days to weeks after you move into your new home, keep a close eye on your pets when they are outside. You will probably want to keep them tied securely (make sure that you use long enough leads) for awhile, until your pets are familiar with their new home.


       Try to give pets water from your previous residence for the first few days to minimize the chance of digestive upset. The stress of the move and adjusting to their new surroundings might cause pets to misbehave initially. Try to be understanding and give them the attention that they need to reassure them that everything will be okay.


       Be tolerant for the first week or two in your new home. If misbehavior continues or you notice that your pets are lethargic or are exhibiting signs of illness, you should take them to the vet for a checkup.


       Any “accidents” should be cleaned up immediately. Animals tend to repeat that behavior in the same place, so eliminate any odors immediately.


       Cats may have an especially hard time with the move. It might be wise to confine them to the “pet room” you made when you moved in, and then gradually introduce them to the rest of the house.


Helpful Links

The following links provide more information about moving your pets:


Humane Society of the United States - 

Article: How to Move Your Pet Safely


Humane Society of the United States -

Article: Settling Into Your New Home


ASPCA: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Article: Pets on the Move: The Stress of Moving on Your Pets




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