Moving with pets? Here are 8 tips for a (less) stressful move.

April 22, 2024 - 6 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
An illustration of one white cat perched atop stack of moving boxes, another cat peeking out of the top of a box on a green armchair, and a spotted white dog barking toward the cats.

Having cats and dogs can add to the complexity of moving homes.

Although having a loyal pet at your side also helps relieve the worst tension, like when the moving company doesn’t turn up on time...but your mortgage sure does!

Pets bring down your blood pressure, but it’s still an anxiety-inducing time for you as a pet parent. And throwing your pet's routine into chaos can definitely affect their happiness and wellbeing. It’s your task to restore calm, preserve their security, and settle their nerves--even between addresses.

If you’re moving house with a dog or cat, use this checklist to plan!

Register with a new vet

When you get your pet on the books at a new vet's practice, it won’t normally cost you a penny. There are a few considerations that may add to your bill in the long-term, however:

  • Shop around to find competitive pricing at a reputable vet. Before it’s packed away into the depths of a moving box, dig out your pet insurance policy and check the yearly claim limit. If your new vet is charging a premium price point, you’ll reach the maximum claim limit far quicker if your pet becomes ill than if you plump for a more affordable, but still reliable, practice.

  • In lieu of a registration fee, some practices will require your pet to attend a chargeable check-up or consultation appointment. It’s an opportunity to establish the general health of your pet before they get a place on the books.

Stock up on stress relief products and treats

The house is upside down in the few days ahead of your move. Most of their safe spaces and comforts are packed away. It will unsettle them. Investing in anti-stress products may foster a sense of security and calm.

“Effective and safe anxiety products have clinical, statistical and significant studies behind them,” explains Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, ManyPets expert vet. “Ahead of your move, speak to your vet about which anti-stress products are suitable for your pet. It’s likely they will recommend Adaptil for dogs, Feliway for cats, and Zylkene, which is suitable for both. These three brands back up their claims with data, and they’re products you can trust."

Ahead of your move, speak to your vet about which anti-stress products are suitable for your pet.

“There is a risk of a combined effect if you use several calming products at once, which could over-sedate your pet," says Dr. Ronngren. "Pick one medicine and stick with it. If you spray Adaptil in your car, on your dog’s blanket, and in your new house, that’s not too much—that’s what it’s meant to be used for. If you’re calming your cat with Feliway, spray it in multiple places—their bedding, the blanket in their basket, and on a towel that’s draped over the carrier. You could also put a diffuser in your new house next to the litter tray."

“I don’t recommend essential oils to pet parents because many of them are toxic to animals, causing respiratory issues and upset stomachs," she adds. "Some come in a roller ball and diffuser; both pose risks of ingestion, so check the packaging and ingredients of every product before you buy them.”

If you have time, experiment with the anti-anxiety products before your moving day. You might also want to investigate: 

  • Anxiety coats, which snuggle a dog’s pressure points.

  • A shaded cat carrier, large enough for a prolonged, comfortable trip.

  • Bulk-buy treats so you can reward calm and composed behavior. Stress and anxiety give dogs and cats upset stomachs, so now isn’t the time for treat experiments. Plump for tried-and-tested comfort foods that make them happy.

  • Prepare an overnight bag packed with brushes, blankets, and other items they know and love to have on hand if they become anxious.

Make sure you have your pet’s medication and documentation stored safely with all your important documents and items, like passports and phone chargers, to reduce stress on the day of the move.

Update their microchips

When your pet was microchipped, they were matched to your contact details, including your address. Updating your pet’s address on the microchip means that if they get lost during the move or in the weeks that follow, they can be quickly reunited with you. 

It’s your responsibility to update the microchip details, not your vet’s, so contact the manufacturer to update your information. You’re likely to be charged for the update.

Update your pet insurance

It shouldn't cost you anything to change the address on your pet insurance. However, your provider may need to change your premium based on your new address.

You have a couple of options about when to update your policy details:

  • Tell your insurer your new address as soon as you’re into your new home

  • Contact your insurer when you have a moving date and advise when you need the policy to be revised

Find a place for your dog and cat to stay on moving day

Not everyone moves in one day, and not everyone has local friends and family to care for a pet. But moving day is stressful, not just for you but for your pets.

If you’re keeping your dogs and cats close by on moving day, through choice or necessity, it's a good idea to budget for a pet sitter or boarding facility.

Moving house with a cat: Myth busting with Dr. Kirsten

Dr. Kirsten, is it true that you must keep cats indoors for two weeks after you move?

I do usually recommend keeping a cat indoors for a few days, then doing leash walks or supervised time outdoors together for the first week or two, just so cats can acclimate to the new area. The goal is to decrease the likelihood that they'll get lost or not be able to find their way home.

And, what about the urban legend of slathering a cat’s paws in peanut butter? Will it really make them stop in their tracks and observe their new environment?

No way! Cats are extremely observant and literally any time they go anywhere, they are pulling data and cues from their environment about how they should react. There’s no need to put peanut butter on your cat’s paws.

How to find a pet-friendly hotel when you’re moving home

If you’re staying overnight ahead of a move but you want to keep your dog with you, book a pet-friendly hotel

If there are several weeks between moving out and getting the keys to your new home, you could also budget for a pet-friendly short-term rental.

Note that you might need to pay a higher deposit, or a separate fee, to cover damage and cleaning costs if you have any accidents during your stay.

Make a map of places to exercise your dog

Highlight dog parks, indoor off-leash play parks, agility parks, nature preserves, and even dog-friendly gyms—anywhere to let your pet shake off the stress of the day. 

Some dog-friendly spots will have an entry fee, so do your research and keep aside some of your budget for the day out. 

It gives you chance to get to grips with the local etiquette and meet your new community. For example, find a beach that welcomes dogs and let your puppy flop around in the sand. Meanwhile, you can make new friends with other dog walkers.

Pack your pets' bags beforehand

The home removal tornado has landed. Movers are making a dent in the back-breaking task of hoisting your stuff from one home and settling it into another. 

You and your pet are safely out of the way, shielded from the stress. Let’s get on the road, but do a final check to make sure you have everything you need in your pet’s moving bag: 

  • Documentation, such as insurance paperwork, breed paperwork, adoption paperwork, vaccination details, and medical records from the vet

  • Treasured possessions, including safe toys

  • Calming medication and and anti-anxiety sprays and plug-ins

  • Collapsible bowls, utensils and crockery, plus treats and food enough to last the day

  • Micro towels, brushes, wet wipes and tangle spray because you never know what’s going to happen on a walk

  • Their beds and blankets, so you can get them snuggled up

Moving house with a dog: Tiffin’s story

“Tiffin is our ten-month-old cockalier dog; she’s half cocker and half cavalier. She was born on December 1st, and she’s very small and sweet. Aside from bringing her puppy home to our home, she had never moved before. But she is well-traveled! She’s happy to jump in her crate for weekend getaways!

“We moved from a one-bed apartment to a terraced house, so the environment is completely different than what she’s used to. There are a lot more stairs! Tiffin’s cozy spot is in a musty armchair left by the previous owner, and she’ll happily sit there all day.

“On the day of the move, Tiffin went to daycare while we moved. We had to wait overnight to get the keys, and by 3pm the next day, we were in.

“Tiffin had to grin and bear it with us while we waited. She sat in the car and wandered around, looking for local cafes. In hindsight, we should have found doggy daycare, but we discovered that most daycares are fully booked well in advance for multiple regular days, so unless we had been very organized, it wouldn’t have been possible.

“Once we were in the new house, it was really easy to update my policy. I’m insured with ManyPets. I logged into My Account, sent customer service an email, and changed my address. The premium didn’t change between the two addresses, either.

“Tiffin’s health and behavior were somewhat affected by the move. Just before we moved, Tiffin had an upset stomach, which our vet treated with probiotics and an anti-sickness shot. The symptoms had worsened by the time we arrived, so our new vet did more tests. 

“They suspected it was a parasite, but the results came back clear and eventually, Tiffin started to feel better. I think the timing of the illness is interesting. Perhaps she was picking up on the stress of the move. Her house training also regressed. But again, she’s improved as we’ve settled into the house. We’ve been really flexible about establishing those habits again, just to make sure Tiffin is happy and settled.

“Since moving house, Tiffin’s separation anxiety has become more pronounced. I am in the house more frequently working from home, and I’m not popping out to the gym or shops as frequently as I was in Kennington. She is never apart from me, so she is more sensitive when I leave her, but she is steadily improving as time goes on.”

Amanda is a writer and editor, specialising in insurance and finance content. She was an insurance editor and pet spokesperson for national campaigns at GoCompare. She has worked on branded thought leadership, research papers and reports, with her work appearing in The Financial Times Advsior blog. Amanda joined ManyPets in 2022 and finds inspiration in her two ragdoll cats, Chewie and Albie.