Pet Tips

Tips for Moving With Pets: Moving Day

August 27, 2022

On Sunday, September 15th, 2019 my little pack woke up super early, said our final goodbyes to the apartment we had called home for over 10 years, piled into our car, and drove just over 300 miles to our new home!  The Saturday before our actual moving day we had an amazing group of friends come to help us move pretty much everything we owned from our apartment, down 4 flights of horrible stairs, to our waiting Uhaul outside.

moving pets

Since we moved so far from where we had been living, around 5 hours away, we decided to bite the bullet and do the entire move in one shot.  Luckily we were able to fit everything we wanted to bring with us into a 20 foot Uhaul, with all the super important stuff (pets included) coming with Chris and I in our car.  We paid a friend with experience driving trucks to drive the Uhaul for us, while we made the journey home in our car.  Watching New York City pass by out our car window, for probably the last time in a very long time, was such a surreal feeling.  We were finally making our escape from the city!

The landscape surrounding our new place is quite a bit different!

moving petsI keep thinking about how crazy it was that we went from living in an apartment with a NYC view one night, to living in a house across the street from a 400+ acre forest the next.  But I’ll tell you all about the new place in more detail later.  Today I wanted to share some tips that we found helpful when it came to keeping our pets comfortable on moving day.

Pack pet belongings, and important items/paperwork, in an easy to access location.

Things like pet beds, bowls, food, medications, and any other comfort items should be packed in a way that you can get to them easily once in your new place.  You don’t want to have to be searching like crazy though a mountain of boxes to find your pet’s medication, and items like beds and toys can be very comforting in unfamiliar surroundings.  Make sure you can also access important paperwork such as vet records.

Utilize a “Quiet Zone”, or have your pet visit with friends, while you move out belongings.

Especially if you do what we did and move everything out of your old place at once, it’s important to keep your pets safe and calm.  Seeing lots of people, especially strangers, coming in and out of the house, and the hustle and bustle of lots of items getting moved out, can be really stressful and scary to an animal who doesn’t quite understand what’s going on.  Couple that with doors being constantly opened and closed, or just left open, and you may have a recipe for disaster.  Make sure you keep your pets safe on moving day.  If you have a friend or family member who can take your pet for the day that would be ideal.  We didn’t have that luxury so utilized the next best thing, a ‘quiet zone’  behind closed doors where the dogs could stay safe and relax away from all the excitement.

Keep current forms of ID on your pets at all times during the move.

If your pet is micro-chipped, make sure to update his/her microchip information with your new/current address and phone number ASAP.  Dogs and cats should wear updated ID tags.  For other types of pets, such as exotics, you should write your current contact information down and securely attach it to the outside of their carrier or whatever you’re using to transport them in.

Transport your pets as safely as possible.

Crash tested carriers or harnesses (for dogs) are recommended.  There are a lot of companies that sell carriers/car seats/travel harnesses/etc. especially for dogs, but a majority of them don’t undergo any type of safety testing.  You can check out the Center for Pet Safety to research which brands actually pass crash tests, making them safer options not only for your pets, but for human passengers as well.

Do what you can to keep pets comfortable during long car rides.

My Kit is prone to getting car sick, but we found that keeping him in a more enclosed carrier that prevents him from looking out the car window goes a long way towards keeping his stomach more settled.  Fenrir gets nervous in his carrier sometimes, but if he can hear us talking, either to him or to each other, he stays much calmer.  Keeping your pet(s) comfortable during car rides will mean knowing your individual pet(s), the things that make him/her uncomfortable, and coming up with ways to combat any stressors.  Some pets may benefit from playing calming music, covering his/her travel crate with a light blanket, withholding food the night before a long commute, etc.

To take breaks or not to take breaks?

We decided, during our move, to drive straight to the new place without taking any breaks.  I wanted my dogs to be as comfortable as possible in their carriers, which meant taking their harnesses/leashes off.  I decided that I didn’t want to risk having to take them out of their carriers and putting their harnesses on in an unknown location, just in case one of them (ahem…Fen) decided to try to take off before fully harnessed.  But whether or not you take breaks and allow your pet to stretch his/her legs, or use the bathroom, will depend on your individual pets needs and the length of your trip.

Have a vet lined up in your new location.

I know, all too well, that finding the ‘perfect’ vet can be a task and a half.  Even so, make a list of vets in your new location to try out before you move.  That way if you encounter any issues during or right after your move, you won’t have to waste time researching local vets.  If the new vet you end up selecting doesn’t also provide emergency services, make sure you also research local 24/7 emergency clinics.

moving pets

If you’re in the beginning stages of moving, or are planning a future move, be sure to check out my last post: Moving Prep with Pets: Tips to Combat Stress While Preparing to Move.  It contains some additional tips that were helpful for us while we were still in the prepping stages of our move.  I’m planning on doing one more big moving themed post, most likely next week, that will include some tips for helping your pets adjust to their new home.

Thank you all so much for reading, and especially so to those who have offered words of encouragement during our moving journey.  The past couple of months have been crazy, hectic, stressful…but also exciting, wonderful, and, at the risk of sounding super sappy, a dream come true for us.  I’m looking forward to getting back to posting more regularly, to sharing this next chapter of our story with all of you.

moving pets

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  • Reply Lauren Miller October 3, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Great post! We’ve moved a lot and it’s always stressful no matter how well prepared we are but I feel like each time we’ve do it, it goes better.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 8, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      Thank you! I used to move around quite a bit but that was before we had the dogs. I was really worried about how my little ones would handle everything, especially Kit since he’s a senior now and had, until last month, lived in the same home his entire life. I was pleasantly surprised with how well they adapted.

  • Reply Ruth Epstein October 18, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    Fantastic post and am happy the move went smoothly. The view from your new home sounds awesome and a dream for me. Cannot wait to see more pics.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 20, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      It’s amazing! Literally a breath of fresh air after looking at city views for 10 years. I’ll be sure to post new pictures soon.

  • Reply dawn October 19, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Great tips! I moved all the way across the country with my pets. It is stressful, but having a plan helps a lot. Enjoy your new home!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 20, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you! We originally had a few potential locations in mind, a few of them being across the country, but we ultimately decided to stay on the same coast.

  • Reply Emilia October 21, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    I did a 12 hour move with 6 cats once. My vet suggested we sedate them – terrible idea, Jenny reacted in reverse and cried for 8 hours. I wish I had just done as you suggested and brought comfort items like you suggested. I didn’t know anything about traveling with cats then. I nearly lost Midnight in a cross town move – he hid in the basement rafters and I had decided he’d gotten out and was set to leave but I looked one more time and saw his eyes. I hope you love your new home.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 22, 2019 at 10:56 am

      Wow 12 hours, you have us beat! That must have been so frustrating listening to Jenny crying for most of the trip. I was worried Fen was going to be that way, as he tends to get overexcited and act up in the car, but he behaved himself a lot better then I was thinking he would. I’d imagine moving with cats could be even more stressful than dogs. Thank you, we are loving it here so far.

  • Reply Sandy Kubillus October 21, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Very good post. I agree that keeping pets behind a closed door where they are out of the way is safest for the pets and the movers. How many times does my dog try to trip me? I haven’t moved in a few decades, but when I do, it will be huge. I like your new digs!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 22, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Thank you! We really like it here too. I totally related to dogs trying to trip you haha. And that’s in everyday life, it wouldn’t be any fun when you’re trying to carry heavy boxes around.

  • Reply Jana Rade October 21, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Cookie did very well with our moves. We always made sure that her bed remained untouched untill we were out the door for the last time. She was watching but not caring because her area was intact. It wasn’t until we started carrying her bed out when she showed any concern.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 22, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Kit’s bed seemed to bring him a lot of comfort as well. I set it up first when we got to the new place and he was already relaxing on it as we were bringing other stuff in. I think having comfort items like that really can help them transition.

  • Reply Sweet Purrfections October 21, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Great recommendations! I know that eventually I’ll move and I dread the time getting ready for moving with the cats. However, I won’t move more than 20 miles away so it won’t be as drastic as your move.

    I hope you enjoy the new location away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack October 22, 2019 at 11:01 am

      We are loving it here! This was our “big” move, as the next time we move we’re planning on getting a house in the area we’re in now. We had to bite the bullet and get out of the city, into the area we wanted to be in. Now that we’re here I doubt we’ll ever do such a big/far move again.

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