How to Move Safely with Your Pet

How to Move Safely with Your Pet

Publish Date May 17, 2023 5 Minute Read

Here’s what your pet loves: spending time with you, keeping to a routine and feeling safe and cared for. But, when your household is moving to a new location – whether cross country or even cross-town – your pet’s happy routine will be upended, at least for a little while. If you look at your upcoming move from your pet’s perspective, you can see why it can be a very challenging time for them. You’re busy and distracted, everything is changing, and the presence of strangers and a new environment make them feel fearful and insecure.

It's a lot of work for your pet to able to adapt to new sights, sounds and surroundings. The good news is that there are ways you can help. We’ve gathered advice from animal behavior experts to help you figure out the best way to manage before, during, and after your move.

What to do before the move

Long before you open the front door to your brand-new new living space, there are plans to make and “to-do’s” to check off your list. Be sure to include some preparation for your pet, as well. One smart idea is to make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian as soon as possible before the move.

During that appointment, you can get copies of all vaccination records. You’ll also want to microchip your pet if you haven’t already. If your pet has any standing prescriptions, stock up on enough to carry you well past moving day. If your vet suggests medication to keep your pet calmer on moving day, have that filled in advance. Finally, if you’re moving too far away to continue care, you can request a referral to a new veterinary practice.

As you’re planning the move, you’ll want to make sure your pet’s collar and ID tags have your name, current phone number, and other updated information. And you’ll need to do some pre-move research into leash and pet laws in your new home.

If your pet usually gets anxious when suitcases come out or you’re moving furniture, then it’s a good idea to bring in boxes and let your pet get used to them slowly and adjust to the impending changes. And talk to your vet about medication that might help them keep calm during the (controlled) chaos.

What to do on moving day

If your pet isn’t used to taking a car ride in a carrier, you may want to make a few short test drives beforehand. And you might find it helpful to prepare a “first night kit” with food, litter and toys so they have all they need right away.

When moving day finally dawns, you’ll need to make sure your pets are as secure, quiet and comfortable as possible. You might want to secure them in a crate or closed room until you’re ready to load them into your car. Now is a good time to offer favorite treats, or to introduce a new toy, to help them stay distracted. If your vet suggested sedatives, deliver that medication at the recommended times. And if your pet attends a day care facility, reserving a few hours for them might be a good idea.

Wait to put crated pets in the car until you are ready to leave. Cover crates with a light blanket to reduce anxiety. If you’ll be in the car a long time, make sure to give pets frequent break times and fresh water stops.

It’s important that your new space is as pet-proofed as possible. Check and secure exits, screens and gates, and make sure that outdoor fences don’t have any holes or large spaces. Make sure the landscaping is free of pest control traps, and ensure that all backyard plants are safe for animals.

Honey, we’re home

Take it easy as you introduce your pet to their new space. Find a single room or area where they can rest quietly and have access to food, water or litter boxes. Fill that space with their toys, blankets, bedding and dishes from home, so they can be surrounded by familiar, well-loved objects. Provide lots of time to explore, sniff new scents or just hide out until they feel safe. Then you can gradually introduce pets to new spaces as they become more comfortable, which helps them feel safer than having a large space to roam in right away.

As quickly as you can, try to routine to your regular routine for feeding, exercise and play, which will help your pet settle in more quickly and feel at home as soon as possible. Soon, you and your pet will be happily settled in your new spot, so welcome home!