Moving can be a stressful experience for everyone involved, but it can be especially traumatic for pets. Dogs and cats are territorial animals, and they take comfort in familiar surroundings. Many don’t appreciate being confined during longer road trips and are usually not so comfortable while crated in planes, trains, and automobiles. The experience is particularly traumatic because they won’t be able to understand what exactly is happening.

A bit of planning ahead can help your move go smoothly and safely. Below are some tips to help with your trip and help your pet adjust to their new surroundings quickly so the whole family can enjoy their new home. 

dog stands near packed boxes ready to be moved

First, Visit the Vet 

Your first step should be to make an appointment at the vet for a check-up and to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current. All 50 states require up-to-date rabies vaccinations for cats and dogs. Your local area may also have ordinances for other vaccinations or animal safety measures.

If your pet is a nervous traveler, you can also ask your vet for calming and motion sickness medications. It is also a good idea to locate emergency veterinary clinics along your route and in the area you are headed. 

Make Sure all IDs Are Up-to-Date

In the event that your pet gets lost, it is important to make sure your pets are fitted with collars and ID tags with your name and current phone number. 

The Humane Society recommends 2 tags, one with the home address and another with your destination’s address. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests microchipping in case your pet loses its collar. They state that having “your animals microchipped is the [best] chance that you’ll get your animal back if it becomes lost or stolen.” 

If you are moving internationally, many countries require incoming pets to be microchipped. You can check with the country’s consulate for more information. 

Prepare Your Pet For the Trip  

Small pets, such as cats or small dogs, should travel in a well-ventilated carrier. Sudden stops or accidents can be very hazardous for pets who are loose in the car. A carrier or seatbelt harness can secure your pet and help transport them safely. Large dogs should be kept on a leash at all times. This also prevents animals from escaping out of an opened car door. 

To help your pet feel comfortable in their carrier, leave it out in a place they can access for a few weeks before your trip. Allowing them to sit or play in it will help them feel more comfortable when it’s finally time to load up. The same goes for boxes and suitcases. If the sight of a suitcase makes your dog nervous, leave it out for a few days so they know there is nothing to be afraid of. 

Do Not Leave Pets in the Car, Even for a Short Time 

You should never leave your pet in the car, even for a short time. 

According to the Humane Society, a car can reach dangerous temperatures in a matter of minutes that can cause brain damage, heat stroke, or suffocation. Therefore, if you are driving to your new destination, it is a good idea to pack a picnic that you can enjoy at a rest stop. This little break can also help your pet get some energy out.  

Pet-Friendly Hotels 

If you are moving a long distance or need a place to stay between homes, it can be beneficial to identify a few pet-friendly hotels before you move. These hotels will offer a grassy area to play in and some even provide complimentary treats or a toy. Some pet-friendly hotel chains include Holiday Inn, Comfort Suites, and EconoLodge.  

Moving to a New State

Different states have different regulations concerning animal health and safety. For example, some states have laws banning certain breeds or limiting the number of animals a household can have. Make sure to research the laws before you go. 

Most states also require interstate health certificates for dogs and horses. You can contact the State Department of Animal Husbandry for information on an entry permit for your pet. 

Moving Internationally 

Bringing your pet to a new country has several steps, and it is best to contact the consulate of that country several months before departure. 

According to, you should ask the consulate some of the following questions: 

  1. What constraints are there for importing animals into the country? 
  2. Which documents will I need to present? 
  3. What vaccinations or tests are mandatory? 
  4. Are there any quarantine requirements? 
  5. Are quarantine facilities available? 

Adjusting to Your New Place 

It can be beneficial to save packing your pet’s favorite things for last, so they can play and feel comfortable during the moving hustle and bustle. It is also useful to unpack your pet’s items first, so they have familiar items in the new house. Familiar smells will also be comforting, so instead of washing your sheets, use them to make a cozy spot for your pet. 

Many experts suggest limiting cats to one room of the house with some litter, food and water, so they can acclimate to their new setting. This can also help while you make sure the house is secure by closing all doors, windows, and fireplaces. Cats may try to scramble outside while people move things in and out, and they could easily get lost in unfamiliar territory.

Another way to help your dog feel more secure is by keeping their same routine, such as eating and taking walks at the same time each day. Walks can help them get used to their new environment. Playing, snuggling, and spending time together will help them to know their new home is a place they can feel safe. 

Keep in Mind Greenlin Is Here to Offer Safe Fun for Your Pet

If you aren’t moving too far, consider a pet-sitter or daycare for the day. This can ensure your pet won’t be distressed by all the chaos and there is less risk of your pet being lost or injured as people come and go, lifting heavy items through doors.

It’s always safe at Greenlin dog daycare! We have 6 locations in the Harrisburg Area, so if you’re relocating to our area we would love to have them for a stay. Whether you need a safe place for your pup for the day while you are packing up, or you are planning a family vacation, we have manicured outdoor play areas and indoor climate-controlled play gyms, offering fun in all types of weather. 

You can also rely on us for pet boarding during your move. We provide both dog boarding and cat boarding services, with multiple options to make their stay as cozy and inviting as possible.

For more information please visit our website or call (717) 844-6569 to learn about how we can help your furry friend make the best of their new home.