Moving with Pets: How to Adjust Them Into a New Environment

Jul 12, 2021

Moving is challenging enough on its own—but adding pets to the mix can add a stressful layer to relocating. Moving with pets requires extra planning, paperwork, and packing. But don’t worry, it’s actually not so bad once you know what to do. That’s where we come in. Read on to find out what you need to know about moving with pets.

Is Your New Home Pet Safe?

You finally found the perfect place! It has the right amount of rooms and bathrooms and the layout is a dream. But what about your cat or dog—can your new place accommodate your fur babies? No need to sign a new lease—here are a few modifications you can make to your new home to make it pet-friendly:

Buy Some Pet-friendly Furniture

You might really like that beige tweed couch, but it’s not the best option for a pet parent. Pick the wrong material and you could end up with stains and odors that are hard to get rid of. In addition to stain-resistant fabric, pet parents should also look for furniture that’s covered with one of the following materials:

  • Synthetic microfiber
  • Leather
  • “Outdoor” fabrics

Avoid the following fabrics since they are more vulnerable to scratches and stains:

  • Velvet
  • Silk
  • Tweed

You should also avoid light colors like white or beige.

Get Trash Cans With Lids

Trash cans with lids are a must for pet parents, especially if you know that your pup likes to dig around in the trash looking for bones or other scraps. Getting a taller trash can with a lid for your kitchen and bathrooms will save you from endless cleaning. Pick a can that’s both durable and secure and consider putting it in a place where it’ll be hard to knock over.

Install Screens on Your Windows

If you have a cat, you definitely need screens on your windows, especially if you plan on opening the windows when it’s hot out. Installing screens on your windows can even keep your cats from falling from high-rise buildings and two-story homes. These falls can cause serious injuries and even death, so be sure to get those screens installed as soon as possible.

Opt for Tile Flooring

There’s nothing like a brand new carpet in a new home. They’re cozy and luxurious and are often the highlight of the room’s decor. Unfortunately, carpets are not ideal for households with pets. Most are not durable enough to withstand stains, odors, or damage from your fur babies.

Instead of carpets, opt for ceramic tile or porcelain tile flooring, which are both highly resistant to stains and scratches.

If you can’t give up carpeting altogether and decide to purchase a rug or two, get ones that are washable and made from “indoor/outdoor” materials. Avoid thickly woven sisal and jute rugs, which are more likely to sustain serious damage from scratching.

Prepare Your Pet Ahead of Time

Any big changes are likely to cause anxiety for your pets. Planning can minimize the anxiety for both you and your pets and help ensure a smooth transition to the new digs, especially if you’re moving long distance. Here are a few things to keep in mind before moving day:

Learn the Laws

Complying with new county, city, or state laws can sometimes take several weeks to prepare for. Some states require pets to quarantine, others inspect animals at the border, and some just ask to see heath certificates. Contact the Animal Control Commission in your new locale to determine which documents you’ll need and for information on licensing your pets.

Schedule a Check-Up

Once you find out what the new laws are, you might have to schedule a check-up so you can get the necessary paperwork.

Here are two of the most commonly needed documents when moving with pets:

  • Proof of rabies vaccination: Be sure to have a current rabies tag and a proof of vaccination certificate signed by a veterinarian.
  • Health certificate: This certificate, which must be signed by a vet, states that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and that the animal is free from infectious diseases. Some certificates expire in as little as 10 days, so make sure you get the timing just right for moving day.

During the check-up, you can ask your vet about microchipping so your pet doesn’t get lost while exploring the new neighborhood.

Be sure to keep all health documents with you while traveling.

Decide on Transportation 

If your new home is not too far from the old one, consider putting your fur baby in daycare, a kennel, or with someone you trust while you load and unload your vehicle and get set up.

If daycare is not feasible, here are a few tips for driving with your pets:

  • Use a crate, carrier, or car harness to prevent them from distracting the driver and protect them in case of an accident
  • Keep your pet facing forward so they don’t get disoriented
  • Crack a window so fresh air can circulate or open it all the way so your dog can stick their head out
  • Keep an eye out for signs of motion sickness: yawning, whining, lip licking, or excessive drooling

Driving can sometimes be the most cost-effective way to move, but sometimes it’s necessary to fly. Any air travel arrangements should be made well in advance. You’ll have to call the airline and make a reservation since a limited number of pets can be transported per flight. Keep your pet’s health documents in your carry-on. If your cat or dog is small enough, they might be able to board the flight with you. Larger animals and exotic pets might have to fly in the baggage compartment or be shipped as cargo. Make sure you understand the airline’s requirements for transport containers.

Another option is to use a pet transportation company that can help you take care of the paperwork and help with short trips to international moves.

Whether you travel by car or plane, make sure your dog’s ID tags are up to date and include a cell phone number.

Checklist for Moving With Your Pet

We know that this is a lot of information to take in. Here’s a handy checklist of things to pack for your pet:

  • Proof of rabies vaccination
  • Health certificate
  • Food and treats — don’t forget the can opener
  • Drinking water
  • Food and water bowls — think lightweight and portable
  • Photos of your pet — in case your pet gets lost
  • Paper towels
  • An old towel — to dry off if it rains
  • Your pet’s bed or blanket
  • Toys — to keep them occupied during the ride
  • Any medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.
  • Waste bags
  • First aid kit
  • Cooling and (non-electric) heating pads
Special Considerations for Cats and Dogs

Everything we’ve listed so far applies to both dogs and cats, but here are a few things to keep in mind that are specific for dog and cat parents:


Some cities have breed-specific legislation that bans or restricts over 100 dog breeds. Contact the Animal Control Commission to learn more about local regulations.


For long car trips, consider buying a compact litter box with a handle for easy transporting and a door that helps keep odors inside.

Here are a few final tips to help you and your pet settle in:

  • Take a break! Visit to find pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, beaches, and dog parks.
  • When you get to your new place, set up a quiet spot for your pet that’s away from all the unpacking activity.
  • Put toys and treats in different parts of the home to encourage your pet to explore.

Moving is hard on everybody, so pat yourself on the back for being extra patient with your animals. In time, the stress will subside and you’ll all be settled in and comfy in your new home.

Wondering if you should sedate your pets while traveling? Not sure which vaccinations you need before the big move? Contact a vet today and get the answers you need to move forward with your move.