The Best Advice for Moving with Pets

The Best Advice for Moving with Pets

English bulldog inside vehicle

One of the most important parts of moving is not just the stuff. Not just the cleaning or the job coordinating. A top concern is your furry, scaly, or feathery best friend. However, many of us don’t know where to start when moving with pets. What supplies do I need? What hotels can I stay in? Are there laws in my new town or state I need to be aware of? What mode of transportation is best for my pet? Let us give you a leg up and help answer some of these questions.

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Moving with Pets: Let’s Make a Plan

Moving with a pet is not something to be done on a whim. Just as you have to plan for your move for your own life, you must plan for your pet. Before you even get on your plane, train, or automobile plan out how you will take into consideration the health needs of your pet. Before you move, take your pet to the vet to get a check-up and make sure they are in good overall health or that you have enough of any medications your pet will need. Then, research a vet in your new neighborhood, make an appointment for your pet, and make sure it’s within the first month of your move to get the veterinarian acquainted with your best pal.

According to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 90.5 million homes.

2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey

If you are moving across states or even the country chances are you are going to need to spend a night or two in a hotel. It’s important to find hotels along the way that allow pets in their facilities, call ahead to make a reservation. A list of hotel chains that allow pets are:

  • Red Roof – Allows 1 pet (cat or dog) per guest room, additional pets at managerial discretion. Pet must not exceed 80 pounds
  • Motel 6 – Allows 2 pets per room with combined maximum weight of 150 lbs free of charge
  • Best Western – Allows up to 2 domestic dogs, 80 lbs max each. Other animals such as cats, birds, and monkeys are allowed at managerial discretion. There may be a $30 per pet charge.
  • Choice Hotels – Allows only dogs, nightly fees. Check locations for breed and weight restrictions.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton – Allows dogs with a $75 a night fee
  • Extended Stay America – Allows 2 pets up to 36 inches tall and 36 inches long. Pets outside these measurements can be approved by management on location. May be charged cleaning fee.
  • Kimpton– Allows pets of all types and sizes free of charge. Pet bed available on request, food and water bowls, and a door hanging alerting staff to pets in room.
  • Marriott– Allows pets, restrictions apply by location.
  • Staypineapple – Encourages dogs to stay providing treats, beds, bowls, and door hangars.

Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Move

Priority number one for pet owners when moving is the comfort and safety of their pets. Most accidents or lost pets from moving come from the stress of the move.

Travelling with your pets can bring with it a number of stresses. While some animals handle the change in their surrounding and routine well, others will not. Thankfully, there are things that owners can do to set themselves (and their pets!) up for success.

Dr. Linda Simon, FiveBarks

If you’re renting a moving truck, do NOT put your pet in the body of the truck. The body of the truck can get very hot, and being in that environment for just 15 minutes can be detrimental or even fatal to your pet’s life. Keep him or her in the cab of the truck with you, or in your personal vehicle with you or a friend to monitor your pet.

The Basics of Moving with a Pet

Some basics to have covered when moving with pets include microchipping your cats, dogs, or ferrets. Get the pet used to its crate. Bring the carrier or crate out weeks in advance for your pet to approach. Then do practice runs in the car if that’s your mode of transportation. The goal is to make new routines so the move is not a scary new experience for your pet.

You should look into registering your pet in the city that you’re moving to. Some counties require you to have proven your pet is vaccinated and some will fine you if you don’t have the proper registration. Registering your pet can also make finding a lost pet significantly easier.

Another way to help your pet and keep them safe during a move within city limits, Dr. Simon suggests, is to have them stay at a friend’s house or with family. As you pack and move everything about this will cause your pet distress. If this isn’t an option try doing everything in batches. Use the same strategy of crates with moving boxes. Make their presence known for a few days before use. Pack one room at a time leaving the room your pet spends the most time in for last.


Most moving companies will not move pets because of the liability associated. If you can not take your pet with you in your personal vehicle, there are companies such as Pet Relocation that will help ship your pet. These companies will typically ship your pet with others, so it’s best safety practice to have your pet up to date on its vaccinations. However, some pet shippers might require your pet to be up to date, so make sure you check your pet’s health records with your veterinarian before moving. Regardless of any requirements, get your pet a kennel cough booster to keep them healthy.

One such service is Airpets International. They can move your pet by air or car so you can focus on the moving van and boxes. They offer veterinary services, personalized handlers, and boarding if the new place isn’t quite ready yet. Another great service, especially if you have multiple pets as a part of your household, is Happy Tails Travel, Inc. Happy Tails has offered transportation services on the ground and air travel since 1995 and offers military discounts.

And the last relocation service to mention is Blue Collar Pet Transport. This service not only provides the owner with the ability to track the travel of their pet but also to have a Blue Collar relocation expert transport your pet in your car. If you need to drive the U-Haul, their employee can drive your personal car and pet to give you a helping hand as a special service.

If you are moving from one state to another and your pet will be flying, or you will be using a pet relocation company, you will need to obtain a “Fit to Fly Health Certificate” (APHIS 7001 form) filled out by a veterinarian within 10 days of their flight. Additional rules apply for different states, but you can find the most up-to-date pet information from your local government.

Specifics of Moving with Cats

Cat owners know the poor dears can be quite anxious and easily spooked, especially when their routine is disturbed. Nothing shakes up a cat’s routine like completely relocating said cat.

When you’re moving across town or across the country with your cat, safety and preparation go hand in paw. Moving can be stressful for cats, who are very territorial and they may have the tendency to escape during the moving process, so establishing a secure, comfortable location – on both ends of the move – is critical.

Doron Wolffberg, Founder All About Cats

Doron Wolffberg recommends when moving with a cat, designating a safe room. The safe room is a room in the house with the cat’s needs. Provide necessities such as water, food, and the litter box. Ideally, a safe room should be set up in the old house for packing and moving. And then in the new house set up another safe room for the unpacking process. When moving with cats it may be appropriate to use a treat or pheromone diffuser that will calm your pet. Feliway sells wall diffusers and collars for your kitty to be as calm as possible during this stressful time. Make sure you and whoever is helping you move are aware of where the cat is at all times to avoid the cat escaping in fear.

Safety is Key

If you are moving across the country, the cat may have to spend days in a carrier. One brand of a carrier that has the long-term comfort of your pet in mind is the Sleepy Pod. This carrier is plush and it can be buckled into the seat with the seatbelt.

Make sure when traveling long distances with a cat, you have space for the cat to use their litter box. You may also want the cat to go to the bathroom outside your car. One way to do this is to try leash and harness training your cat. Do this in the months before the move so Whiskers can do his business outside. Thus, you’ve turned the long car ride into a kitty adventure.

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Specifics of Moving with Dogs

When it comes to moving with pets, moving with your dog is probably the smoothest and least stressful of pets. This does not mean that the well-being and safety of your dog during the move shouldn’t be of utmost priority. This also doesn’t mean there won’t be some stress you can relieve with some preparation beforehand.

Dr. Sabrina Kong DVM suggests letting your dog get used to the kennel or crate they will be traveling in a few weeks before the move. If the move is short, consider leaving your dog at a daycare or with a friend. That can keep them out of your way and let you have one less stressor about your move. Pets can get in the way of your movers while they are moving heavy objects, putting your movers and your pet(s) in harms way. By keeping your pet separate from the moving process you can also help to alleviate the stress many pets experience during a move.

Remember when traveling with a dog you will need to make stops for the bathroom and stretch its legs. Don’t forget to calculate that with your travel time. For some additional peace of mind consider getting your dog microchipped and/or getting a GPS tracking dog collar in case your dog gets loose at any time while moving.

Specifics of Moving with Birds, Reptiles, & Fish

Photo of perched parakeet

Birds, reptiles, and fish are the more finicky pets when it comes to being high maintenance with moving. Birds can easily fly away if not properly caged at all times and they are sensitive to temperature and easily injured. Reptiles are extremely sensitive to temperature and require certain habitats to thrive. Fish, well they need water, which is hard to transport anywhere in any large quantity. So it’s best to do as much research as you can about moving with these types of animals.

Feathered Friends

Lisa Bono, owner, and operator of the Platinum Parrot recommends always keeping your bird caged. Even a trained bird can fly out of any opening in a car. Additionally, if spooked it can get injured by the sudden breaking or a car crash if left loose in the car. Therefore, letting your bird have free roam of the vehicle is not a good idea. Provide toys and food in their smaller travel cage for enjoyment.

Feeling Fishy

At CatfishVet they suggest moving your fish in either a bag or 5-gallon bucket filled with water from the fish’s tank. The size of the container depends on the distance, size of fish, and time for the journey. If your fish is in a bag make sure there is enough air to get to the fish’s water at the top. Make sure to keep an eye on the oxygen levels, pH levels, and temperature of the water. If necessary get an airstone or use an air pump to keep the water oxygenated over long distances. Drive slowly and carefully with no sudden moves. When you arrive at your new home make sure the tank set up matches the water in the bucket for oxygen, pH, and temperature before transferring your fish again.

Making Heads or Tails of Scales

For reptiles, Jeff Neal and the team at the online reptile husbandry resource, The Critter Depot, gave us some tips on moving reptiles safely. The biggest risk with moving with reptiles is the shock and stress of removing them from their habitats. If nothing else can be preserved for the move, make sure the temperature never gets below 70 in the vehicle. A car is also the best option for moving reptiles as the temperature control is in your hands as well as any other needs of the reptile species. If a reptile gets too cold there is a risk of neurological damage. Always research the needs of your particular species of reptiles in order to best cater to their comfort during a move.

Specifics of Moving with Rabbits, Hedgehogs, & Other Exotics

As you get into specifics of moving with exotic pets there can be extra steps to take into consideration besides the basics of carriers, temperature control, and vet visits.

hedgehog, cute, animal

For instance, if you are the privileged owner of a hedgehog there are laws you need to make yourself aware of when moving. Heavenly Hedgies gives a list of states and cities where owning a hedgehog is outright illegal. Other states have specific laws for keeping them. The same is true for ferrets, chickens, certain breeds of rabbits, and more.

Domestic Pets vs Captive Wildlife

In many states, your exotic pet may in fact be categorized as captive wildlife, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). As such, different laws apply to captive wildlife than to domestic pets. If you are traveling across the county and/or state lines be ready to read up on the laws surrounding captive wildlife ownership. If you are planning to use public transportation in your move you will need to seek out their restrictions for captive wildlife versus pets on their transportation.

Pets, Check! Now What?

Now that you’ve started researching the needs for your pet for your move and have a plan in place to make sure the move is as stress-free as possible check out some of the other articles UniMovers has to help you have the smoothest move possible. Learn about “Moving Out of State? The Secrets You Need to Know” and check out our “Powerful Words of Inspiration to Uplift Movers Seeking Change” to help you keep your zen during this chaotic time!