How to Move with Pets: 7 Tips to Make It Easy

Cardinal Financial June 13, 2023 | 6 min read
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Pets are family—it’s important to make sure the process of moving to your next home together is as smooth as possible for them. If you’re like most pet parents, you’re probably wondering just how to do that. So, let’s talk how to move with pets, tips for moving with pets, and more advice for your upcoming transition.

How to Move with Pets: 7 Tips to Make it Easy

  • Start packing early
  • Find pet-friendly accommodations if needed
  • Set up a designated moving day space
  • Get the right gear
  • Make a travel plan with your current vet
  • Update your pet’s microchip
  • Schedule a check-up with your new vet

Start packing early

Pets aren’t always (ever?) a fan of change. To ease the transition, it’s important to pack early and gradually. This way, your pet has time to process that something new is happening and adjust accordingly. After all, imagine if you woke up one day and all your belongings were suddenly gone with no explanation. It’d be pretty stressful, right?

Find pet-friendly accommodations if needed

Depending on how far you’re moving, you may not need this step. But, if your move involves multiple days of travel or a gap between moving out and moving in, wherever you stay in the interim needs to be equipped for your pet. Beyond simply identifying as a pet-friendly hotel or house, consider all the same factors that went into choosing your new home (outdoor access, windows, etc.) when choosing temporary accommodations. You can afford to be a little less selective here since it’s not for the long term. Still, the more comfortable the move is for your pet, the sooner they’ll settle in and feel at home in the new place.

Set up a designated moving day space

For the sake of both your movers and your pets, a designated pet space for moving day is a must. Backyards, friends’ houses, and large crates are all options for your canine kids. Cats can be a little trickier. If they have a favorite hiding spot and it’s in a place that can be closed off from the rest of the home, consider making that their designated area. This can help minimize stress since it’s a place where you know they feel safe. Wherever you set up base, make sure your cat has food, water, and a litter box. And, of course, communicate to your movers which areas are off-limits (a sign on the door never hurts).

Pro Tip: If you have turtles or other pets that live in their own enclosed environment, keep that enclosure out of the way and clearly marked as NOT an item for your movers to pack up.

Get the right gear

Unless you’re moving right across town, you’re going to need more than just a carrier to transport your pet. Your needs will vary according to your pet, but here are some common items to consider:

  • Leash with harness that can be hooked to a seatbelt
  • Packable food and water bowls
  • Disposable litter box
  • Collars with current ID tags in case your pet gets out
  • Crate with puppy pads

Whatever gear you get, don’t forget to try it out with your pet leading up to the move. The more acclimated they are to their new carrier or harness, the less stressed they’ll be on moving day.

Make a travel plan with your current vet

Sure, you could book a getaway with your vet. But in the case of how to move with pets, we’re referring to a travel plan for your animal. Especially if your pet gets carsick or has anxiety, you’ll want to discuss the possibility of sedatives, anti-nausea medicines, or anxiety medicines for the trip.

Does your dog spit out pills without fail? Then a liquid dose might be better. Is your cat hopeless in the car? Then your best bet may be a sedative (in the correct dose) to help them sleep through the drive. These are the details your vet can help you nail down to make the experience as pain-free as possible for your fur babies.

Update your pet’s microchip

We recommend taking care of this as soon as you’re moved out of your old place. That way, if the worst-case scenario happens and your pet gets away from you during the move, any animal shelter that takes them in can find you. This is also just one of those small but important details that tend to get forgotten during the flurry of moving, like updating your billing address or forwarding your mail. The sooner you check it off your list, the sooner you can get back to the bigger issues like unpacking.

Not sure if your pet is microchipped? If you adopted them from a shelter, microchips are typically included along with spaying/neutering. Your vet can also help you check for a microchip. Just keep in mind that microchips can’t track your pet. Their function is to store your contact information so that if your pet ends up at a shelter, the shelter staff can notify you. The average person can’t access information on the microchip, so it’s important to keep your pet’s collar tags up to date, too. If you want to track your pet, there are also plenty of GPS tracking tags available that can be added to their collar. 

Schedule a check-up with your new vet

Moving with pets usually entails (no pun intended) finding a new vet. Many vet clinics have a weeks-long waitlist for new patients, so don’t put off setting up an appointment until your pet needs one. Schedule a check-up as soon as you can. This is also a good opportunity to address any of your pet’s issues that may have arisen due to the stress of travel, such as gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, or aggression.

Any other tips for moving with pets?

When it comes to how to move with pets, there’s no single right way to go about it. The best advice we can give you is to adjust to your pet’s unique needs. And don’t forget that their biggest insecurity about moving is likely about you leaving them behind. So, make sure you give your pet some extra head scratches, belly rubs, and treats to let them know you’re not going anywhere. At least, not without them.

The more comfortable you can make your pet during your move, the sooner you can all start to feel at home in your new place.

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