Tips for moving pets across town or across the country

Sunday Signal

Moving across the street or across the country can cause pets anxiety, so it’s best to learn some coping strategies for your furry friends.

“Relocating is stressful for pets,” said Kurt Venator, D.V.M., Ph.D. and chief veterinary officer at Purina. “Planning ahead and making extra preparations can help your pet adjust to your new surroundings.”

Purina experts offer tips to help prepare pets for a stress-free move.

Practice run

If it is possible, take a ‘practice-run’ ahead of time. If you’re moving with dogs, let them explore the new neighborhood before you move. This helps them become familiar with the scents and sounds of the area.

For a cat, help them get used to their crate. Leave the carrier out with the door open for the cat to explore weeks ahead of time, making it an enticing place by putting favorite treats, toys or a blanket inside. Take a few short practice drives so the cat is used to traveling in the carrier. This will reduce the stress of travel on moving day.

Make a moving day plan

Consider your pets’ safety amidst the chaos of moving day. Keep cats in a space away from the moving process. A bathroom at your new home is an ideal spot to set up food, water and a litter box, so cats are out of the way and comfortable until the move is complete.

Dogs can be trickier. It’s best to assign a family member to care for them throughout the move or ask a trusted friend to pet-sit for the day.

Help curious cats settle in

It takes time for cats to become familiar with their new surroundings. Make sure doors and windows are closed, as they may try to escape to find their old home. Cats may “disappear” into a hiding place like a closet to calm their nerves. 

Let dogs sniff out their space

Allow dogs to use their natural instincts to smell and explore by walking them on a leash for their first tour around the house. The sooner they get used to the scents of their new environment, the sooner they’ll feel at home.

Maintain a regular routine and spend extra time with them at home to help them feel secure. Avoid leaving your pup outside unattended at first; a new environment may bring out new skills you didn’t know your dog had like jumping over or digging under fences as an attempt to return to familiar ground.

Moving far?

If you’re moving far away, consider the different types of pet care services you’ll need to secure once you’re in your new city. You’ll have to find a new veterinarian, pet-sitting or walking services, plus pet-friendly parks.

Ask for recommendations from neighbors or online neighborhood sites, search for pet tips online at or, or join a local pet meet-up group.

“After you move, give your pet extra attention,” advises Annie Valuska, Ph.D. and senior pet behavior scientist at Purina. “Your presence will have a calming effect and reassure them.”

Visit for more tips on dog and cat health, nutrition, behavior and training. (BPT)  

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