Moving with pets, namely cats and dogs, can be complicated and stressful for all parties involved. Pets have a hard time when it comes to moving – they hate changing their territory and most of them are also distressed by long drives.

Plan every step of the move carefully, taking into account all potential stress triggers:  packing and loading your stuff with your pet around, the actual drive to the destination – especially in case of long-distance moves – and, finally, the process of getting used to the new home. Here are the most important steps you must take for a stress-free move with your furry friends.

Contact Your Vet

Your pet needs a full check-up before embarking on this voyage. The hassle associated with moving could be hard to endure if your cat or dog has untreated medical issues. You should also obtain a health certificate with all your pet’s inoculations – many states require such a document, so be sure that the vet provides one.

In case your pet is on some sort of medication, get enough of it to last until you’re settled into your new home. Ask your current vet for recommendations for a new vet at the destination or search online for one and have your pet’s medical records sent over.

Moving overseas, to Hawaii, for example, or to a different country, is more complicated. Depending on your destination, you might need additional documents from your vet, blood tests and multiple inoculations done, a microchip installed and so on. Certain countries, like Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Japan, require quarantine periods for all pets.

Check Out Local Laws and Regulations

Most states and cities within the continental US have laws that apply to the entry of pets – for example, having to show the inoculation certificate already mentioned. There might also be special regulations regarding certain dog breeds, restrictions about the number of pets one can keep or local taxes that apply to pet owners. Contact the town hall in your new city of residence to find out about all these important details ahead of time.

Get Your Pet Used to a Pet Carrier

You’ll be using the pet carrier a lot during the move, and your four-legged friend needs to be comfortable in it. Purchase one that’s suitable for your pet’s size, put its favorite blanket or bed inside, plus some tasty treats, and allow it to become familiar with its temporary surroundings. Ideally, you should start this adjustment process at least a month in advance of the move, especially if your pet never used carriers before.

Moving with pets

Decide on the Means of Transportation

Long-distance moves are the ones that raise the most issues, because, truth be told, transporting a pet over hundreds or thousands of miles is not an easy task. You have several options – flying the pet to the destination, using a company specialized in pet shipping, or the simplest and, in most cases, the best option, driving with your pet.

Even a long trip – such as one from New York City to Miami, for example – is feasible if planned properly, and can even be fun! Get a self-storage unit in Miami and ship your big items over there ahead of time – this way, you’ll be able to drive your own car to the destination, and allow yourself, and your pet, plenty of breaks along the way. Book accommodation for a night or two, as needed, in pet-friendly places, and turn the dreaded move into a nice adventure.

Hire a Pet Sitter for Moving Day

While packing can be done in stages, there’s still going to be that one busy day when you have to load everything you own into a truck. You’ll be extremely busy, the house will be full of people, and your doors will be wide-open most of the time – the perfect scenario for a pet to escape! Save yourself the trouble and hire a pet sitter for the entire day.

Help Your Pet Adapt to Its New Surroundings

Adjusting to a new place is hard on humans, and a lot harder on pets. They need time to understand that the place where you brought them is their new home. When you first arrive, your pet might be worried and agitated – it’s better to keep it in a closed room for a few hours, with food and water at its disposal. Spend some time with your pet, and then introduce it to the rest of the house. Have its favorite toys and snacks at hand – this will make the transition easier.

Your pet’s behavior will probably be erratic for a while – do fun stuff, like playing or taking walks, to reduce its stress level. The transition is usually easier for dogs and indoor cats. However, if you’re a cat owner and you want to let it outside, be cautious about this and do it in stages. Keep the cat indoors for at least for a couple of weeks, until it becomes completely comfortable with the new home. Then, take it into the backyard and allow it to explore a little bit more each day, with you around. Leave the cat outside for longer periods of time only once you’re satisfied it has learned its new surroundings properly.

Moving with pets certainly requires some planning, but it’s totally worth it. After all, your reward is having your best four-legged friend close by during a new and exciting chapter of your life.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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