How to Make Moving Less Stressful with a Pet

March 11, 2022

Moving with Pets

The prospect of packing up a home and moving into a new one can seem daunting to most homeowners, but to a pet, moving can be particularly stressful. As animals who cannot communicate using the same methods that humans can, structure and predictability are important for many animals to reduce their anxiety levels. Moving to a new home may disrupt this structure that they have become accustomed to, so it is important for pet parents to proactively counteract this stress to keep their pets as comfortable as possible.

Golden Retriever Lying on a Bed

Moving with Dogs

For dogs, consider getting them used to boxes and packaging in your old home first. Letting them sniff around your packing materials, before everything familiar disappears inside the boxes, can be a great way to help an anxious dog get used to something new.

Try to stick to their routines as much as possible. While the momentous tasks of sorting, packing, and selling your home may disrupt your schedule quite a bit, many dogs become anxious when their normal schedule is turned on end. Setting a reminder or alarm so that your pup’s food schedule remains consistent can make a world of difference.

It is also helpful to think about moving day itself, and where your dog will be in the process. suggests finding your dog a sitter or daycare for the day, because an anxious dog underfoot will negatively effect both yourself and your pet. It’s best if you can find a place for them to go where they are already familiar and comfortable – like a family member’s house or a daycare that they have been to before.

While in the moving process, pack up your dog’s things last and unpack them first – along with all those moving day essentials that you’ve set aside for the members of your family. While the first thing you might be scrambling for in your new house as you unpack is the toilet paper, your dog’s first need may be their safe, familiar bed to relax in.

An Orange Cat and Black Cat Sitting in Boxes

Moving with Cats

For cats, make sure that they are comfortable with their travel carrier! Having a safe and secure spot for them in their carrier is an excellent way to decrease your cat’s stress, along with your own. If your cat isn’t used to a carrier, consider leaving one out in your old home before you move, placing treats and toys inside to create a positive association with the space. When moving day comes, your cat can be safe and comfortable in their carrier until there is a secure room you can let them relax in with their food, water, and litter box.

Cats also have a strong sense of smell, and may be bothered if their new home still has the lingering odor of another animal, suggests  Make sure to take the time to deep clean your home to help ease them in to living in a new place. Shampooing carpets and wiping down surfaces can help eliminate any pesky previous pet odors.

Just as with moving with dogs, help keep your cat at ease by maintaining their schedule as much as possible. Keeping a routine and having an action plan in place to increase their comfort will help them transition more quickly to their new home, as well as help you and your family relax together.

A Hamster hiding in a cardboard tube on a table

Moving with Small Animals

Small animals, like birds, rodents, and fish, require their own special consideration when moving, too. Many small animals are more easily affected by changes in diet, temperature, and more, making moving an issue that takes special consideration.

For fish, consider a battery-operated aerator or filter, so that the quality of their environment does not change during the move. Fish do best in stable environments, so pay attention to the temperature of your home and car as you navigate the moving process.

Just like cats, dogs, and other animals, birds can keep their anxiety reduced by becoming acclimated to new conditions as well. For instance, suggests getting your birds used to car rides and travel appropriate cages ahead of time. Your bird cage may also benefit from using a water bottle and a seed guard during travel.

Animals like gerbils and hamsters are also sensitive to changing environments like temperature and light. When moving small animals, save space in the front of a vehicle for transportation, where they can be monitored and temperatures can be regulated. Trunks and trailers often can get too cold or too hot for most small animals.

Water is also consideration during a move. Some animals, like turtles, are particularly sensitive to changes in their water. If you are using tap water from your old home, try to bring some with you in order to transition your pet to the change at your new home.


Although some stress is to be expected during the moving process, a lot can be done to limit moving anxiety in your pets. A new home should be an exciting process, opening up new opportunities for yourself and your pets! With a little bit of planning ahead of time, moving with your pet can be accomplished with relative ease.



About the Author

By: Rachel Valerio

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