You’ve got your packing checklist ready, your movers are booked, and you’ve forwarded your mail… but do you have a plan for your pets?
If you’re a pet owner, you know just how much you love your animals. So don’t forget these important family members when moving day arrives! Our furry and feathered friends take comfort in routines, and moving is the ultimate shake-up. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your pet weathers the upheaval of moving as smoothly as possible.
Having a well-laid plan will help you worry less during the stress of packing and relocating your household, and make moving a happier, easier transition for everyone.
Many pets love to play with packing supplies… who doesn’t enjoy the endless fun of an empty box or some rippable tissue paper? To help your pets get used to having boxes around, start packing early.
If you have room, start stocking up on boxes several weeks before your move. Place less commonly used items in the boxes and leave them open. Your pets might be curious at first, but soon they won’t give them a second glance.
Conditioning your pets ahead of time helps reduce the disruptions and box attacks as you get closer to moving day and packing begins in earnest.
Pets (especially dogs and cats) are creatures of habit. The more your schedule changes, the higher their anxiety is likely to go.
It can be tempting to skip the everyday routines with your pets if you’re on a roll with packing or organizing your to-do list, but the small disruption to your flow now will pay off with a happier pet in the long run.
To keep your pet’s stress levels down in the weeks leading up to moving (and on moving day itself if you can!), make sure you do the following:
You’re going to be busy while you’re moving, but making a little extra time to entertain and exercise your pets is essential. One of the best antidotes to stress is burning off all that anxious energy! A tired pet is a calm pet, which will make your whole move more peaceful for everyone.
If things are just too busy to fit in an extra walk or play session, consider asking a friend to come help and take your furry friend for some outdoor playdates. Dog walking services are also a great way to help your pup get some exercise and time away from a hectic household. Check out an app like Rover or Wag to find a reliable dog walker in your area.
Consider using brain games as an additional way to help keep your pet occupied. They will be less likely to get bored and misbehave, and it will free up time for you to focus on other tasks.
Boxes, piles of clothes, half-taken apart furniture… moving can quickly turn your once organized home into a mountain of clutter. While some mess is unavoidable, keeping at least one space clear and comfortable for your pet throughout the moving process is a necessity for a happy pet.
Whether that’s a small room, corner, or even an open closet, having somewhere they can retreat to when the chaos overwhelms them is key, especially for cats and dogs.
It can be ideal to have a friend, family member, or trusted kennel keep your pet for a couple of days as you make the actual move, but sometimes that doesn’t work. If your pets are along for the move, prioritize getting your pet’s space ready first when you arrive at your new place. Place their blanket, cage, or crate in a comfortable spot that’s away from the hustle and bustle of the move, but not so far that they can’t hear you. You don’t want them to feel like they’ve been left alone in a brand new place.
Consider putting dogs and cats in a room with a door that can be closed during move out and move in, as the front door is likely going to be open a lot as you move all your things inside. The last thing you want is an escapee to chase after during your already exhausting day.
Vets know a lot about helping pets manage stressful situations… especially since most pets don’t enjoy their visits! They are an excellent resource for questions about reducing your pet’s anxiety levels.
It’s a good idea to book a visit with your vet a few weeks before you move so you can do the following:
You don’t want to be caught off guard about leash and pet laws if you move to a new city! Do your research beforehand, so you know what to expect. If you’re moving into a new apartment (or rental home), it’s important to know the pet requirements for your lease. The last thing you want is to be turned away when you show up with a pet!
It is a good idea to have newly updated pet tags made before you move. If your pet is microchipped, don’t forget to update their information online.
When booking your accommodations, make sure your pet will be welcome wherever you are staying. Many popular booking websites let you narrow your search to only include those places that are pet-friendly, but don’t assume all pets will be welcome!
Check with the accommodation provider if you are moving with a venomous snake or a pet that is a bit out of the ordinary.
During the moving process, doors will be left open, and people will be going in and out. Keep your pet secure so they have no opportunities to run away due to fear or confusion. Place them in a kennel in a quiet part of the house or in a separate closed room.
Do not leave your dog unattended in the backyard of your new home while moving in! Have a current photo and updated tags/microchips just in case they escape.
Reduce the stress of moving for both yourself and your pet by having all your pet’s necessities packed and on hand. Water bowls, favorite toys, a blanket, food, treats, kitty litter, etc., are a good start.
Don’t forget a roll of paper towels and disposable plastic bags to help with unexpected clean-ups!
The best place for your pet is secured by a seatbelt in their crate or carrier in the backseat. Make sure seat belts are securely fastened in case of an accident and that there are no loose objects or boxes that could fall and hit your pet. You can put a blanket over your pet’s crate or carrier to reduce visual stimulation if you think this will help reduce their anxiety (a definite must for our bird friends).
It is important to remember that this should not be the first time your pet has been in their crate or carrier! Familiarize them with it beforehand, so it is a safe and comfortable travel space. You can even take them out on a few test drives beforehand, so traveling in the car is not a new and scary experience.
A new space can mean unexpected hazards for your pet. Follow these pet-proofing tips to make sure they will be safe in their new home:
Keep in mind that dogs are prone to chewing when they feel anxious. Be proactive and provide them with plenty of chew toys so they will not be tempted to chew on less desirable options (your shoes or an electrical cord for example).
Try your best to keep your space clean and clutter-free to reduce the chances your pet will get into something that could harm them.
A new home is a stressful adjustment for most animals, but there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier.
Introduce your pet to their new space slowly. On arrival, keep them secluded to a single part of the house and make sure they have all their everyday necessities nearby. For cat owners, you will be able to relocate their cat litter to a more permanent location once they are more comfortable with their surroundings. Do not be in a rush to replace any of their old toys, beds or water dishes. The more familiar objects they have the better.
When you arrive, try and walk your dog throughout your new home (or apartment) and give them ample time to sniff the new smells and get used to their new surroundings. Give your cat space to hide out in a dark place until they feel safe.
Most importantly, keep to a routine as much as possible to help your pet get back to normal. The quicker you bounce back to your normal routine, the faster your pet will begin to feel at home.
Stay home as much as possible for the first week to help reassure your pet that everything is fine. If you have to step out, make sure you do not leave your dog alone in the backyard during the adjustment period. Dogs are known to go to great lengths in search of familiar surroundings, so their chances of escape are much higher. Play it safe and keep a close eye on them until they are more familiar with their new surroundings.
Lastly, give your pet a lot of positive attention and interactions. This is the time to spoil them with extra affection and treats! Help make positive associates with your new space by hiding treats for them to find, and use brain games to keep their minds busy and relaxed.
Although you might be eager for your pet to get settled and familiar with their new space, there will be an adjustment period, and some strange behaviour is to be expected.
Your cat might disappear for a few days or forget to use the litter box. Dogs may have some accidents in the house, and you may notice your pet has little to no appetite.
Be patient and know that this is normal and not permanent. Once your pet has had time to realize they are in a safe place, they will go back to being their usual selves.
However, if your pet is still showing signs of anxiety or unusual behaviour after a month, it might be time to check with their vet.
We’ve included specific tips on moving with different pets here… the majority of our tips above work with dogs and cats, but we wanted to include some additional tips on moving with other kinds of pets.
Moves can be stressful and sometimes fatal for fish, so plan carefully. If you are only moving a small number of fish, you can transport them in plastic bags half and half-filled with water and air. A larger number of fish can be moved using 5-10 gallon plastic containers. Portable aerators are a good idea if your move will take a few days.
Keep your small friends in their usual cages or containers. Make sure they are secure in your vehicle and that nothing will bump into them or knock them over. Covering the cage is an excellent way to reduce stimulation and regulate temperature.
If you have birds you may think you can wholeheartedly trust they won’t fly away from you, but while the stresses of moving are high, it’s dangerous to leave it up to trust! Moving can make birds incredibly anxious, so the safest place for them is in their cage. Getting them safely to their new home will be worth it.
Birds are susceptible to temperature changes, so it is a good idea to cover their cage to block out any unwelcome drafts. This will also help keep them calm! To keep them as comfortable as possible, make sure they have plenty of water, a place to perch, and their favourite snack.
If moving to a new state, your bird may need a health certificate or additional tests. Make sure you are familiar with the laws and regulations ahead of time.
Your reptile buddy needs surroundings that are moist but not wet. Putting a damp cloth in their container is a good way to keep them safe and happy.
Snakes should be moved in a well-insulated container with a lot of air holes. You need to double up for venomous snakes by transporting them in two sturdy boxes or a box inside a wooden crate.
Turtles are easy to move. Did you know you can even overnight express mail your turtle? Check out The Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society for instructions. Otherwise, transport in an insulated box with plenty of air holes.
Whatever kind of reptile you are taking with you, mark the outside of the container with the name and species, and make yourself aware of any government regulations regarding your pet.
If you’re moving to, within, or out of Texas, here are some helpful resources to get your move with pets started — on the right foot!
If you’re planning a move, it pays to compare residential movers before selecting the local moving company that’s right for you. It’s vital that any movers you contract be cognizant of the needs of your pet. Einstein Moving Company understands the need for swift, efficient action to help minimize everyone’s stress on moving day, and also to help reduce the risk of pet escape.
Book a move with our team today for quick, caring, and careful service—protecting your pets, possessions, and your peace of mind.