Tips for Moving With Pets

Moving with pets involves a different set of challenges and questions. These tips will help your family relocate with less stress.

Brindle dog sitting in a moving box with a funny sideways smile


Moving With Pets

Around here, we focus mostly on helping you plan fun family vacations that include your pets. But not every trip can be a leisurely ramble to your favorite holiday destination. If you’re relocating to a new city – or even a new country? We hope these tips for moving with pets help as you prepare to settle in your new home!

Make A Plan

The sooner you start planning, the better! When you’re moving with pets, there’s a lot to be done.

Pets are sensitive to changes in their routine and will usually sense that things are shifting. Don’t be surprised if your dog or cat shows some anxiety by acting unsettled or clingy when you decide to relocate.

To help your pet feel more comfortable, it’s best if one member of your family takes responsibility for your pet’s care through the process. Having a reassuring companion at every stop along the way will help your dog or cat feel more secure. In addition, it will help to stick to his normal schedule as much as possible. And wait as long as possible to pack his belongings.

Woman with dog outdoors, man loading car in background


Make Arrangements For Moving Day

Are you moving across town or over the ocean? Driving or flying? Transporting your own belongings or hiring a mover? These decisions will determine what arrangements to make for your pet on moving day.

Local moves can usually be completed in a day, so consider setting up an appointment for daycare. Or arrange for your pet to spend time with a friend on the big day. This will free up your attention to focus on the move.

If you’re driving to your new home, use our pet friendly road trip planner to map your route and find restaurants, dog parks, and hotels along the way. When booking reservations, always confirm that the hotel’s pet policy will accommodate your entire family.

READ MORE ⇒  Hotel Chains Where Pets Stay Free

Brindle dog laying on a hotel bed holding a stuffed puppy

If moving with your pets involves air travel, arrangements should be made well in advance. Only a limited number of pets can be transported on each flight, so make your reservations as soon as possible.

There are some documents your pet will need to board the flight. Gather and place them in a carry-on that will stay with you during the entire trip. If you’re moving out of the country, it may be helpful to contact a pet transportation agency to assist you with the required paperwork.

Travel Tip: Make sure that your pet’s identification tags are up to date before your move. Include you cell phone number on the tag so you can be contacted while you’re traveling. Also consider having your pet microchipped, to assist them in getting back to you if they become lost.


Know The Law

Most states have laws regarding the importation of dogs, cats, horses, and other pets. And the requirements in some states are more onerous than others. For example, Hawaii’s pet travel restrictions require weeks of preparation to avoid a long kennel quarantine.

Some states may inspect animals at the border, or ask to see heath certificates. Contact the Animal Control Commission for the city or town where you’ll be living to determine what documents you’ll need and for information on licensing your pets.

Communities across the country have also passed breed specific legislation, banning or restricting more than 100 different breeds of dogs. Therefore, it’s vital to research the local laws before arriving with your dog. The Animal Control Commission should also provide you with information regarding local regulations.

READ MORE ⇒  State Laws Require Pets To Be Restrained in Vehicles

Travel Tip: If your dog is impacted by breed specific legislation, or could be mistaken for one, be prepared with a muzzle, leash, and proof of insurance. If you inadvertently violate the law, be polite and do your best to bring yourself and your dog into compliance. Even if that means immediately leaving the jurisdiction.

White terrier at the wheel of a red truck parked at a pet friendly movie theater


Get A Check-Up

Depending on your mode of travel your destination, certain documents relating to your pet’s health may be needed. Once you’ve determined the requirements, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get everything in order.

Keep the documents in a handy spot while you’re traveling, in case you’re asked for them along the way. The most commonly needed documents when moving with pets are:

Proof of Rabies Vaccination: A current rabies tag and a proof of vaccination certificate signed by your veterinarian is your pet’s most important travel document. Whenever you travel with your pet, be sure to keep that certificate in your possession at all times.

Health Certificate: A certificate, signed by your veterinarian, describing your pet, listing all vaccinations, and indicating that your pet is in good health and free from infectious diseases. Health certificates are valid for a limited amount of time, sometimes for as little as 10 days. So, be sure that your pet arrives at your destination before the certificate expires.

Travel Tip: If you’re worried that your pet could get motion sickness, speak to your veterinarian about prescriptions that help relieve those symptoms.

READ MORE ⇒ My Dog Hates The Car – Now What?!

Charming little Labrador Retriever puppy


Transporting Your Pet

By Motor Vehicle

Driving is the least expensive way of moving with pets. And can be the most fun! What dog doesn’t love a road trip, after all?

Using to plan your trip allows you to locate pet friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, and dog parks along the way. And if you have a few days to spare, what seemed like a chore can become an adventure!

Arriving safely is always the first priority, so start with securing your pet while you are on the road. A crate, carrier, or car harness will prevent your pet from distracting you while you’re driving. It will protect them from injury in case of an accident.

Allow your pet time to get accustomed to whichever device you choose, starting out with short trips. And don’t forget to deactivate the airbag for any seat your pet will be occupying!

READ MORE ⇒  Best Crash-Tested Dog Harnesses For Traveling By Car

Brindle dog in a car buckled in with a red Sleepypod crash-tested harness

By Air

Many airlines allow pets aboard their flights, but some are more pet friendly than others. Comparing the policies, requirements, and pet fees will help you choose.

Dogs and cats that fit inside an airline-approved carrier can fly in the cabin with you. Larger animals and exotic pets will have to fly in the aircraft’s baggage compartment or be shipped as cargo. Whichever airline you choose, carefully read their requirements for appropriate containers and instructions on preparing your pet for transport.

Also be aware that weather conditions may impact animals flying in the cargo hold. Airlines will not transport animals when extreme cold or hot temperatures could threaten their health. So, it’s possible that your pet’s flight could be affected by weather.

Travel Tip: Unless advised by your veterinarian, sedating your pet prior to transporting him by air is not recommended.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips For Flying With Pets

Fluffy white dog waiting at the airport with airline cargo pet carrier and luggage in the background


Stick To The Schedule

Once you’re on your way, maintaining your pet’s schedule will help reduce any anxiety he might be feeling. Set a reminder on your phone to help you keep track of feeding times, and allow for plenty of breaks.

Pets need a lot of stuff when they are traveling! Here is a list of things to pack for your pet:

  • Food and Treats – For canned food, don’t forget the can opener!
  • Drinking Water
  • Food and Water Bowls – Portable bowls pack easily and are great when you are out & about. Anti-spill water bowls are fantastic in the car.
  • Your vet’s telephone number, and the telephone number for the National Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
  • Photos of your pet – In case you get separated, a current photo helps create posters quickly.
  • Paper towels for muddy paws and other messes
  • An old towel in case of rain
  • A bed or blanket and a couple of toys – Having familiar items will make him more comfortable when you spend the night in unfamiliar locations.
  • All medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.
  • Waste bags for picking up
  • First aid kit

Travel Tip: When traveling, it’s a good habit to attach your pet’s leash before you open the vehicle doors and detach it after the doors have been closed. In new environments pets can easily get spooked and run off – keeping the leash connected will keep you all safer.

READ MORE ⇒ What Should You Pack When Traveling With Your Cat?

A bag with all the essentials your dog will need to go on an overnight trip.


Using A Pet Transportation Company

If you can’t accompany your pet during your move, using a pet transportation agency can be helpful. These companies offer door-to-door service, picking your pet up at home and delivering him to your destination.

When shipping an unaccompanied pet, determine whether you or the agent you hire will be responsible for the following:

  • Providing the shipping container, which must be marked with both the owner and the recipient’s name, address, and phone number
  • Providing all required health documents
  • Delivering the pet to the air freight terminal on time
  • Paying the shipping charges
  • Signing the shipping papers
  • Picking up the pet at the destination

Settling In

When you arrive at your new home, set up a quiet spot for your pet away from the unpacking activity. Creating a refuge with his bed or crate and a few of his favorite toys will help him relax and settle in.

Once you’ve caught your breath, locate a good veterinarian and give them a copy of your pet’s medical records. Supplying this information will save valuable time if your pet should require emergency treatment.

Couple sitting on sofa with a smiling dog on their lap


Dogs and cats go through a similar adjustment period as people when moving to a new house. Until they become familiar with their new abode and neighborhood, take care that they don’t become startled and try to escape.

Encourage your pet to explore new rooms by placing toys and treats inside. And use blankets, beds, and toys with their scent on them for the first few weeks.

Develop a new routine by feeding them at the same time and in the same place each day. And, within a few weeks, they should have made the adjustment and be content in their new environment.

We hope this helps you prepare for moving with pets! If you’d like more information, we found this free ebook from to be super helpful.


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