Moving house with pets

Moving house with pets

April 15, 2015

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Moving house with pets, may be one of the most stressful life events you’ll ever have to tackle but in the chaos of cardboard boxes, packing tape and moving trucks, you might not realise how stressed your pets feel, too. We have written an article about ways to make the transition as safe and as easy as possible for your furry friends. Don’t forget “man’s best friend” or any other pet you have when making decisions on where to live or what type of place to get and do make sure you have thought about how you will transport your pets.

If you are considering moving house with pets and this involves an interstate or overseas move, you may well need the services of a professional pet transport company. To locate one in your area please search Total Pets Pet Directory.

Plan ahead

Check to see if the new house or home is suitable for your pet and if leasehold, will it allow pets. If they do they may want an extra deposit/bond amount to compensate for pet issues. You may have to take a less attractive property in order to keep your pet. Keep your vet records to show your landlord to prove your pet is neutered, tagged, and well behaved to help convince if needed. Check with your veterinarian on the legal and quarantine implications of transporting your pets if moving overseas or interstate.

Pets are often lost during moves

Doors are left open. The commotion may cause your frightened pet to bolt or hide. The pet may not be immediately missed and it may not be possible for you to stay in the neighbourhood to search. Crate or board your pets until you are settled into your new home. Be sure they wear ID tags with a current phone number (not the one you just disconnected!)

Pets get stressed too

If pets are a part of your family, remember that moving, whether down the block or across the country, is just as stressful for them as it is for you. Animals can sense and react to stress just like people, so anything we can do to make it easier on them will be great for them and you.

Your pets stress can be greatly reduced with good planning and the tips that you’ll find here are from some suggestions from top veterinarians, zoo experts, experienced pet movers and owners who have moved with pets. Read the general guidelines, and then check out the heading for your pet.

General guidelines

Keep your pets’ routines as regular as possible as you prepare to move. If you normally feed, exercise or play with them at a certain time, continue to do so. During the final crunch of moving, you may find it works best to keep your pet either at a friend’s house or a kennel, reducing the chance of your pet getting upset and running away, or in the case of cats, hiding in a box about to be shipped.

Keep some form of identification on the pet at all times and be sure you have current pictures along with a written description available. This will reduce a lot of stress should your pet escape. If the length of the move requires the animal be provided with food and water, be sure the food is what they are used to and that the water comes from “a good” supply. Changing diet or water sources are common causes of diarrhoea and vomiting from upset stomachs. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian for food recommendations.

Prior to moving, schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a thorough physical exam, making sure all vaccinations are current. While at your veterinarian’s office, get copies of your pets’ records and check to see if he/she can recommend another veterinarian at your new location.

If your pet is on any medication be sure to have an ample supply so you won’t run out before getting settled in your new location. Also discuss with your veterinarian whether your pet should be tranquillised during the move.

Temperature extremes should be avoided. In most cases, it’s best to transport your animal in a sturdy, insulated carrier to help regulate the changing temperature. Never leave a pet in a hot car during the summer time or a cold car in the winter.

If you are transporting the pet by plane, try to book a direct flight to minimise the time they will spend in unfamiliar places. Some airlines provide counter-to-counter service so your pet will be carried on and off the plane by an airline employee. While this service costs a little more, it may be worth it for your peace of mind.


Moving house with pets such as cats, can be tricky as cats are notorious for getting into trouble during the moving process since they are particularly sensitive to stress. “Stress for a cat involves three things,” says animal behaviourist and psychologist, John Wright, author of Is Your Cat Crazy? “It involves reaction to novelty — cats don’t like novelty. They like sameness. It involves reaction to unpredictability — cats don’t like events to be unpredictable. The third thing is the degree of control– cats don’t like to be out of control. When you move, you have a high degree of all three, until things settle down.”

For these reasons it is particularly important to maintain your cat’s normal routine. During the move itself, keep your cat confined to one room with food, water, a litter pan, some favourite toys, and the carrier you plan to use so your cat can get used to it. The door should be locked or have a large, “Do Not Open” sign on it, so the movers won’t inadvertently let the “cat out of the bag.”

Transport your cat in a well constructed cat carrier large enough to have room for food, water and a small litter box. Upon arrival at your destination, place the cat and carrier in one secure room with at least two doors between the cat and the outside. Open the door of the carrier and let the cat decide when to come out. Allow your cat to become acclimatised to the one room before releasing him to the rest of the house. If the cat scurries for cover when you open the door, wait several days, then try again. Let the cat explore other rooms of the house when it meets you at the door.

If your cat is accustomed to going outdoors, wait several days after arriving at your new home before letting the cat out, placing them on a leash or harness for short exploratory trips. After 2 or 3 days of these trips, you can begin to let your cat out on its own.


Dogs are generally easier to move than cats since they aren’t as affected by the stress. A few special considerations to keep in mind include being prepared to clean up after your dog at rest stops. Carry a roll of paper towels and disposable plastic bags. Place a piece of paper towel over the solid matter, and your hand in one of the plastic bags. Pick up the towel and solid matter and pull the bag down over your hand and towel, turning it inside out. Then, twist, seal and dispose.

If you plan on flying to your new home, check with the airlines for details, DO NOT just turn up at the airport with a pet and expect to get it on a flight, pets need special arrangements and clearances. Try to book a direct flight to prevent your pet from having to spend long periods in a distant airport, and have someone scheduled to pick up your dog at the other end.

Never leave any pet in the car for more than a few minutes. This is especially important during warm weather. If you are carrying your dog with you in the car and plan to stop overnight, be sure to call ahead to find a hotel that accepts pets.


If you will be taking your bird in the car, maintain a warm, constant temperature since birds are particularly sensitive to temperature changes. It is possible to carry the bird in its cage as long as you have a cover for it to prevent drafts and keep the bird in a darkened setting to reduce the bird’s anxiety. If you have an excitable bird, it may be necessary to cushion the cage or crate with a soft material to reduce self-inflicted trauma.

Place slices of apple, grapes or other fruit in the cage to supplement the bird’s water supply and be sure they have adequate places to perch.


If you have a small number of fish and are moving only a short distance, you can move them to their new location by using plastic bags half filled with water and the other half with air. Place the bags in an insulated container such as an ice chest or Styrofoam container to help maintain a steady temperature.

For a larger number of fish or for transporting over a greater distance, large (10-30 litres) plastic containers can be used. First, fill them with water (either salt or fresh water, depending on the type of fish) and change the water often to remove any toxins that might leach from the plastic. On moving day fill the containers half full with water and place the fish in the water, about 1-2 fish per 4-6 litres.

If your trip is going to take more than a couple of days, it’s best to invest in some portable aerators to keep the water well oxygenated. Do not keep the containers in the car overnight since the drop in temperature is likely to be too severe.

Small pets

Moving house with pets such as mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters, etc.  are to keep them in the car with you and in their normal container. Take their water bottle out to avoid it leaking. At rest stops, check the animal and place the bottle back in the cage so it can drink.

Be sure to maintain a comfortable, steady temperature even if it means parking your car away from the rest rooms to get it under the shade of a tree. These little critters are comfortable at about the same temperatures people are so if you are cold or hot, they are too.

Further reading about moving house with pets

Greencross VetsMoving house with a pet

Moving HouseSettling your dog into a new home

VetWestSettling your cat into a new house

AquaOneMoving house with fish

Search for a pet friendly rental in Australia

If you considering moving house with pets and that involves renting a property, but have not yet found the right home to rent, why not search online at for a large selection of pet friendly rentals.

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