Things to Remember When Moving Your Pets

Moving homes is a challenging experience for any pet. Helping your pet feel calm and confident during a move makes the process easier for them and reduces your stress during this time.

Tips for moving with pets:

  • Ensure your pet is compliant with all the health tests required to travel legally
  • Microchip your pet
  • Habituate them to the sights & sounds of moving & travelling
  • Kennel your pet during the move
  • Stick to their routine
  • Slowly acclimate them to their new home

Animals thrive on stability, and predictably, they enjoy following a routine and spending time in familiar surroundings. Moving can be incredibly stressful for animals, but a few simple tricks and a bit of thoughtful preparation before the move can make a world of difference to your pet’s stress levels before, during, and after the move.

Preparing Your Pets For The Move

Preparing your pet for the move is just as important as the move itself. Preparation begins a few weeks or even months before the move; the greater the distance between the old and new home, the more preparation that is required.

For example:

  1. Preparing to move to a new house in the same neighbourhood will be relatively easy, and a few days of preparation is typically sufficient
  2. Moving to a new home in a different type of area (i.e., moving from a rural area to a suburban area) or moving across the state, province, or county lines will take a few weeks of preparation
  3. Relocating to another country will require a few months of preparation

Ensuring Your Pet’s Move Is “Legal”

Different regions and countries have various laws surrounding what health tests, vaccinations, and inspections a pet should have before travelling.

For example, dogs being exported from South Africa to America must be cleared for Babesia canis and Ehrlichia canis before being transported to the USA.

Some regions also require that a vet inspect your pet before travelling. The vet will issue a health certificate if your pet is healthy enough to travel and passes the health tests.

Your pet must travel with the correct documentation; these documents typically include your identification document, proof of ownership, your pet’s passport, and health certificates. Additional pet travel documents may be required depending on the area you’re moving to.

Keep Your Pets Safe

While owners do everything in their power to keep their pets safe, accidents happen, and sometimes the worst comes to pass, and pets become lost. Always ensure your pet can be traced back to you by:

  1. Microchipping them
  2. Fitting them with a collar and tag containing your contact details

Your dog or cat should be comfortable wearing a collar before the day of the move, and the collar should stay on 24/7 for two weeks before the move, during the move, and two months after the move.

Smooth Transference Of Health Care

There is a principle in human medicine that emphasizes the importance of continuity of care; the same is true for animals; however, long-distance moves may necessitate the use of a new vet.

Ask your old vet to email your pet’s health records to the new vet. The faster your new vet understands the specific health conditions of your pet, the better the care they will receive.

Habituating Your Pet To Different Experiences

Well-socialised animals will experience less stress during a move.

Allow your pet to sniff the boxes, tape and become used to the sights and sounds of the family packing up the home. It is essential to interact with your pet calmly and confidently during packing.

By behaving in this way, you are saying:

“Yes, this is different, but it is nothing to get excited or scared about.”

It is a good idea to get animals used to the sights and sounds of travelling. If your pet will be flying to their new home:

  1. Get them used to their travel container
  2. Crate train them so they are not frustrated when being confined
  3. Get them used to the loud noises of a plane, e.g., try taking them for car drive through an automated car wash

Always introduce new experiences gradually in a calm, encouraging manner. Positive reinforcement with food, play, or cuddles is an excellent method of helping your pet feel happy and confident in dealing with new experiences.

Some pets become overly anxious when travelling or may struggle with motion sickness. If your pet is one of these animals, speak to your vet about getting a mild sedative or motion sickness medication.

Ask your vet when you should give the medication and how much you should give your pet. Place the medication near your pet’s travel documents to ensure you don’t forget it.

What To Do On The Day Of The Move?

Your pet should ideally not be at home on the day of a move. During a move, people walk in and out of the house carrying boxes and furniture.

Everyone is busy and distracted, and doors that should be kept closed may be left open, and pets that should be supervised are forgotten in the chaos. Not only is this anxiety-provoking for the pet, but it also poses a significant risk for them becoming lost if they run away.

You can either leave your pet with a trusted friend or neighbour or place them in a vet-recommended kennel for a couple of days. If neither of these options is feasible, your pet can be kept in a quiet room with a locked door.

Preparing Your Pet For Travel

Pets going into quarantine should be moved before the household is packed up and moved; this allows them to avoid the stress of moving day.

When leaving your pet at the airport, your attitude and emotions during this time will influence how your pet reacts. Owners who are overly emotional or fuss over their pets before leaving may have the opposite effect than intended; their animals are left worried and stressed due to their owner’s distress.

Give them their medication (if necessary) before travelling and pack their travel documents in a clear waterproof plastic sleeve.

While travelling, it is vital to ensure that your pet remains cool and has enough water to prevent dehydration. Animals travelling via car or plane are incredibly vulnerable to heat stress, which can be fatal; monitor the vehicle’s temperature when transporting your pet.

It is not advisable to feed dogs right before travelling; a full stomach can worsen travel-linked nausea and vomiting.

How To Help Your Pet Become Comfortable In Their New Home?

As mentioned before, most animals find security from a predictable routine. Try to stick to the same routine in your new home.

However, depending on where your moved (e.g., rural to urban) or why you moved (e.g., new job), a change in routine may be inevitable. If this is the case, try to make the changes gradual, giving your pet time to adjust to a new routine.

Keeping Your Pet Safe

Animals are often unsettled in a new home and may try to run away. They will eventually acclimate and become comfortable in their new home; however, in the beginning, the owners should take special precautions to ensure their animals are not allowed to escape.

  1. Dogs should always be kept in a secure and safe yard or house. The fencing or walls should be high enough to prevent them from jumping over the perimeter walls.
  2. Birds should be kept in their cage and only let out in closed rooms, with no open windows or doors.
  3. Cats should be confined to a room for approximately 1 month, only being let out into the rest of the house when supervised.

During this acclimation period, always keep your pet’s collar on as an “extra” safety measure in case they get lost.

Helping Your Pet Become Comfortable In Their New Home

Allow your pet to investigate their new home at their own pace. Trying to force your pet to explore the house will increase, not decrease, their stress. Most behaviourists and vets recommend that owners give pets a safe place (e.g., crate, den, hidey-hole) to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed and scared.

Sometimes a new house also comes with new family members and household pets. Always supervise these introductions and allow the different household members to become comfortable with one another.

A new family dynamic requires an adjustment period; this transitory phase is rarely smooth sailing! Friendships take time to develop and allowing your pet to find “their place” in the new home and family will happen naturally over time.

Make the new home fun by:

  1. Playing with your pet
  2. Giving them frequent exercise
  3. Training them
  4. Using mental enrichment games and toys

Adjusting To Different Climates

Animals need time to adjust to new climates. Dogs take approximately 10 to 60 days to acclimate to significant changes in temperature and weather patterns.

If moving to a cold climate, equip your pet with all the winter gear they require and educate yourself on managing cold-related animal welfare concerns.

If moving to a warmer climate, ask your local vet about heat stress and hyperthermia in pets, what signs and symptoms to watch for, how to prevent it and how to manage it. Your pet must receive enough water to prevent it from overheating during hot weather.


Managing your pet’s stress levels before, during and after a move is essential to helping both of you enjoy your new adventure. It is crucial to consider the legal requirements and your pet’s physical and emotional needs when creating a plan to facilitate a painless move between homes.

If you find this article informative, you can check out more on our website at Transport Executive.


About The Author
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Anthony King

I'm Anthony King, founder and CEO of Transport Executive. I've spent the last 5 years writing, taking care of my dogs, and enjoying life as it should be. I'm also a beer enthusiast by trade and a wine connoisseur. You can learn more about me and the company here.