Zip Moving and Storage

The Fun Side of Moving

Pets in Distress After a Move – Discover the Must-Know Solutions!

Pets in Distress After a Move - Discover the Must-Know Solutions!
Reading time: 9 minutes

All pet owners simply adore their furry paws. Whether dogs, cats, or any other animal, our pets are loyal companions, travel buddies, a source of happiness, and often a shoulder to cry on.

Are Pets in Distress After a Move

That’s why when it’s time to move, amidst a million other tasks, we also think about our beloved pets and how they will adapt to the change in environment.

In this regard, dogs are easier to cooperate with compared to cats. It has been scientifically proven that dogs follow their owners wherever they go. Dogs will adjust more quickly to any new environment if their owner is with them, offering them lots of love and support.

Is moving stressful for dogs and cats? Infographic.

Cats, on the other hand, are different and extraordinary creatures. Though incredibly loyal and devoted pets, cats form strong attachments to the space they inhabit. That’s why you often see news of cats staying in the ruins of their former homes after earthquakes and similar disasters.

As someone who has shared their living space with a cat for 9 years and is soon preparing for a move, my main concern isn’t about packing belongings or finding a good moving company.

My primary worry is how my cat will adjust to an entirely new apartment and surroundings. That’s why I started researching, contacted veterinarians, and shared some important and valuable tips with you to help your dog and cat better cope with transportation and adaptation to a new living space.

These pet relocation tips will significantly help you and your beloved furry companions during the moving process. Hopefully, they’ll feel right at home in no time with a bit of extra care and attention.

Is moving stressful for dogs and cats?

The short answer would be yes; moving can be truly stressful for dogs and cats. Let’s face it, relocating can be a challenging experience for most of us…now imagine how your dog and cat feels!

Is moving stressful for dogs and cats?

Suddenly, they are leaving the freedom of their yard, their favorite snuggle spot, or the comfort of their kibble dish in the kitchen! Here are some valuable tips for moving with a dog or a cat that will make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.

Start planning as early as possible

Start planning early by considering the potential options for moving your pet. If you intend to travel with your car, remember that your pet might not be used to a packed and fully loaded car (my cat certainly isn’t).

If your dog isn’t used to confined spaces, it is a good idea to start training them a few days or weeks before your move. The same goes for your sassy cat.

Fortunately, most cats prefer enclosed spaces, making their transporter a comforting haven and safe harbor throughout the packing and moving process. If your cat isn’t accustomed to being in a carrier, start familiarizing her by letting her enter it daily and leave her scent inside.

Another helpful tip is to leave her favorite toy or food inside the carrier to encourage her to enter more readily and adjust to it. Once your cat realizes it’s her secure zone, it will be much easier to safely close her in the carrier and place it safely in the car.

Dogs tend to get uneasy when they notice that you’re planning a trip or leaving, so look into getting a few boxes and packing materials before the move and placing them around the house. This will give your pets time to adjust to the boxes to avoid triggering any anxious behavior.

If you are moving within a reasonable distance, see if you have the time to take your pup for a walk through the new neighborhood before the move. It will assist them in adapting and adjusting, and soon, they will feel comfortable with their new walking route!

Prepare a moving day essential box

Prepare a moving day essential box for pets.

As you embark on the packing journey, don’t forget to dedicate special boxes solely for your beloved pets’ essentials. Ensure to label them prominently as Pet Supplies so you can effortlessly locate and access all the necessities your furry companions need upon reaching your new address. The box should contain: 

  • Leash and a collar 
  • Dry Food
  • Bottled water
  • Towels and blankets
  • Toys and treats 
  • Puppy pads
  • Health checks/rabies shots/ vaccination records
  • Tags with your cell phone number
  • Medicine on hand and copies of any prescription


Do not leave your pets loose during a move; keep them in a crate nearby. Fill the crate with toys and treats to keep them occupied and entertained. While relocating, you can leave your dog with a trusted friend, doggy daycare, or a pet sitter. is an excellent website for finding pet-friendly hotels.

When loading the crate for your pup in the car, ensure it is in the back seat, and do not forget to thread the seatbelt through the bars to ensure your pet’s safety.

Give them plenty of hugs and love

Having grown up as the child of a veterinarian, I always thought I had enough knowledge about animals. However, I still love seeking advice from my dad and hearing his experienced opinion.

As my moving day approached, I asked him what we, as pet owners, could do to ensure the best for our beloved companions. His first response was surprising. He said that pets absorb our energy, so we, as owners, must remain calm and composed during the packing and moving process.

Our cats and dogs instinctively know when something is wrong with us, and they will easily sense it if we are anxious. They may try to comfort us, but it could also upset them.

The second piece of advice he gave was that during challenging events in life (and moving can undoubtedly be one), our pets are there to help and support us. That’s why his primary advice was to rely on our beloved animals just as they will depend on us. This means providing them with love, cuddles, patience, and encouragement as we move together to a new life chapter.

Give pets plenty of hugs and love after relocation.

Give them enough time to adjust to their new surroundings

Once you finally settle into your new space, an equally demanding process follows – acclimating your pet to the new environment.

According to ancient tradition, it’s desirable to let the cat be the first to explore the new apartment to see if there is good energy. If the cat doesn’t want to stay in that place or shows signs of distress, the older people might advise you to change the location of residence again.

However irrational this story may sound, it does carry a valuable message. Cats will cautiously examine every inch of the new space if they decide to leave their familiar and secure carrier.

Don’t rush them; give them ample time to explore at their own pace. Similar goes for dogs; allow them to sniff around the new house or apartment, and if they are calm and well-behaved, reward them with a favorite treat or food.

How long does it take for your pet to adjust to a move?

Occasionally, your pets might exhibit unusual behavior even days after the move. Preparing for such a situation is essential to ensure their well-being and comfort during this adjustment period

How long does it take for your pet to adjust to a move?

Some of the signs that your dog may be depressed from moving and suffering from anxiety include:

  • reduced appetite
  • changes in eating habits
  • excessive vocalization
  • shedding of fur
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • uncharacteristic aggression
  • changes in bathroom habits
  • scratching furniture
  • chewing on items
  • seeking comfort more than usual
  • unusual restlessness
  • seeking isolation 
  • heavy breathing
  • loss of interest in toys
  • increased heart rate
  • trembling or shaking


The same symptoms apply to cats, although it may be even more challenging for a cat to accept a change in environment.

Of course, each animal is unique, and all of this can be individual; I am now speaking only about general and common symptoms that may indicate that a dog or cat struggles with anxiety due to a change of surroundings.

If you see any of these symptoms, you must reach out to a veterinarian you trust right away. As a long-time veterinarian, my dad has encountered cases where cats or dogs groom excessively, causing patchy fur due to moving-induced stress and anxiety. Remember, seeking professional guidance is essential; don’t try treatments alone.

No matter how distressing it may seem, there is always a solution. A veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and recommend the best course of treatment. In some cases, this may involve special sedatives, but never administer them on your own; always seek the supervision and expertise of a veterinarian.

You might find some relief in knowing that veterinary practice has shown that with professional assistance, lots of love, and patience, every animal eventually adjusts to a new environment.

Additional tips

Refrain from buying your dog any new items right away. Instead, leave his old toys for a few weeks until he gets used to the new home. Also, don’t wash those dog blankets! That familiar scent can help him feel more at home in a new location.

After-the-Move Checklist:

  • Ensure that the microchip in your pup is updated with your current contact information and your new address.

  • If you are moving to a new area, check with your doctor about any new vaccinations or additional parasite preventatives your dog might need.

  • Find a veterinarian in your new neighborhood and see to make an introductory appointment once you move.

Moving with pets is a whole new experience

With our beloved pets by our side, life becomes more manageable and delightful, as they even help us navigate challenging times more efficiently.

Relocating pets stress-free is a job for many people. The cooperation of all family members and veterinarians is essential to ensure your pet feels its best. This easy pet relocation guide has all the necessary information, so take a deep breath and start packing those boxes! I’m eager to start doing that myself sooner rather than later, and I know my cat will have a blast leaping into those empty cardboard boxes, enjoying all the fun they offer.

Follow these tips for smooth pet relocation, and with some luck, your furry friend will be fine during the entire process.

Elevate your move with our checklist!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.