Pets love routine, but during a long-distance move, all of your pet’s routines and comforts are likely to go out the window. Even the best planned moves are stressful for pets, which can make your experience during the move even more difficult.
To make your move stress-free for you, your family, and your pet, keep the following tips in mind before, during, and after the big day.
Before the Move
Take your pet to the vet
Start by visiting your pet’s veterinarian. Other than yourself, your vet knows your pet’s behavior and needs the best—they can help you put together personalized pet moving tips.
Ask your vet a few important questions, including:
- Is my pet healthy enough to travel?
- What steps should I take to keep my pet safe during the journey?
- Are there any medications I should give my pet to keep them calm during travel?
Update your pet’s information
Double-check that your pet’s identifying information is up to date, including their microchip, collar, and any other ID tags they may have. Make sure you include an updated phone number, address, and email.
As moving day gets closer, you may want to update your pet’s home address from your old house to your new one. If your pet gets lost along the journey, you’ll want them to end up at the right address!
Stick to routines for as long as possible
As your moving day gets closer, your pet’s life is likely to change. This is especially true as you pack up the house. For example, you might have to empty out their favorite playroom from its furniture, or maybe bring in outside movers who your pet is unfamiliar with.
Mixing up your pet’s routine is likely to introduce stress. To keep them feeling safe and comfortable, try to stick to as many routines as possible during the move. Try to:
- Keep your pet’s play area or bedroom untouched for as long as possible.
- Avoid packing your pet’s favorite toys, blankets, and other beloved items.
- Keep wake-up time and bedtimes as consistent as possible.
For drivers: Plan your stops
If you know you and your pet are in for a drive longer than 10 hours, it’s best to plan your sleeping arrangements ahead of time.
Try and schedule hotel rooms up to a month in advance to ensure you get a bed in a pet-friendly hotel. When choosing a hotel, keep two things in mind:
- Find a hotel that allows pets. Some pets–like large dogs and those considered exotic (like rabbits and birds)–might take extra research.
- Plan your hotel locations conservatively. Due to traffic, weather conditions, and driving fatigue, it’s better to plan to stop after a manageable distance rather than push yourself to drive difficult legs.
Day of the Move
Keep Them Safe and Out of the Way
Even the most well-organized move-out days are full of chaos. All of the work and noise from people coming in and out can make for a stressful environment for your pet.
To keep your pet calm and safe from accidents, set them in a room during the packing process. If your pet is prone to anxiety, consider keeping someone with them for the entirety of the move (this is also a great way to give your moving-day helpers fun breaks).
Eventually, since you’re packing the entire home, you’ll have to move your pet from their isolated room. When this happens, simply move them to another, small, safe room. Double-check that their new room is free from moving-day items like nails and box before taking them to their new safe spot.
Secure them during the drive or flight
During the drive, you’ll want to keep your pet comfy. In addition to comfort, they should stay in a safe, secure space. You’ll want to make sure that nothing falls or shifts onto them during the drive. In case of an accident or hard press on the brakes, your pet should be secured with a pet-friendly seat belt or strap.
Your pet should never be placed in an open space meant for items, such as in the bed of a moving van.
Whether your pet is a dog, cat, bird, fish, or reptile, it's usually best to keep them in their crate during the drive. The crate has two great benefits: crates are easier to secure inside a vehicle than a loose pet, and your pet is more likely to feel safe in the familiar comfort of their crate.
Some dog owners might prefer to keep their pooch out of a crate for freedom of movement, but even dogs should be secured. There are a lot of dog-friendly seatbelt products out there—click around and purchase one that works best for you.
If you’re planning on flying with your pet, we recommend you review the airline’s pet policy before buying your ticket. Some airlines will only allow certain species of pets, and even then, the airline will most likely set a weight maximum for your pet.
Tips for All Pets: After the Move
Re-Create their space
As soon as the dust has settled from the move, prioritize recreating your pet’s personal space.
First, designate a space for your pet in your new home. Give it a good clean, ensure it’s free from any dangerous items, and start decorating the space with your pet’s beloved toys and furniture. Have your pet spend the night here so they can really get comfortable with the space.
Get back to a routine
Even if your move-in process isn’t complete, try and reintroduce a routine to your pet’s life as quickly as possible. Try:
- Recreating a space for them in the house
- Following a consistent bedtime and wake-up time
- Walking them around the yard and street, getting them used to the spaces where they’ll play and use the bathroom
Go back to the vet
Once you’ve settled into your new home, schedule a vet visit with a local vet in your area.
You’ll not only find a new vet—which is a great start to becoming a part of your new community—but you’ll also get the chance to ask the vet for advice in introducing your pet to a new space.
Ask the Professionals
Moving can be hard enough as it is. Add a dog, cat, fish, rabbit, bird, or iguana to the equation, and it can quickly become hard to manage both moving and keeping your pet safe.
Luckily for you, professional movers can help.
Professional movers take over the hardest steps in your move: packing, hauling, and unpacking your belongings. If you hire a professional moving team, you can focus all of your energy on getting you and your pet to your new home safely, rather than having to juggle everything all at once.
For a head start on your search for a professional moving company, check out our list of the best moving companies in the USA: