a dog and a cat sitting on the floor.

The Ultimate Pet Relocation Checklist

We treat our pets like members of the family because they are. They make our homes more lively and full of love, companionship, and security. Animals, like people, develop strong emotional ties to their homes, so taking extra precautions to ensure their well-being during relocation is essential.

Animals experience stress during a move because they are exposed to changes in their environment, encounter unfamiliar people and noises, and go through the ordeal of transportation and adjustment to their new home. Pet owners can do several things to ensure their pet’s relocation goes as easily and safely as possible.

Additional steps may be required to successfully transfer a specific animal. However, a moving truck is not a choice for transporting animals and is not a suitable environment for any pet, regardless of the type of animal. Following is a comprehensive rundown of the steps needed to relocate most pets.

Preparation for Dogs and Cats

1. Go to the Vet

As mentioned, relocation can be very stressful for pets. It is important that your pets have a checkup with their vet before moving day. Request an updated copy of your pet’s medical records to bring with you during the move. If you have a pet that can be microchipped but has not been yet, you should do so immediately. With more open doors and changes in routine, relocation can increase runaway risk. A microchip might speed up finding your furry friend if it runs away. It would also be advisable that your pet wears an id tag. You can always ask your vet for tips on securely transferring your pet.

2. Medications

If your pet is on medication, make sure you have at least a 30-day supply on hand. This will give you enough time to find a vet in your new city.

3. Ask Around and Do Your Research

Ask for references for a new vet from your current veterinarian or friends in your new location. You can also look online for a vet recognized by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) before moving.

4. Check the Restrictions

Check to see if your new country, state, county, or city has any restrictions on your pets. Furthermore, if you are moving into a community with a homeowner’s association, you may be subject to additional pet restrictions and should contact them ahead of time to verify any potential conflicts.

It is not unusual for governments at all levels or homeowner’s associations to impose limits on the sorts, breeds, and number of animals. Make sure your pets are welcome wherever you are going. Check for potential restrictions or requirements for your pets before relocating to a new state or country.

The Moving Day

Your move-day preparations may differ depending on the type of pet you have. Consider boarding or taking your cat or dog to a pet daycare or leaving them with a reliable pet sitter for a couple of days. This helps you avoid any unnecessary pet anxiety and prevents them from bolting out of an open door, biting or scratching the movers, and keeps them away from the chaos.

If you decide to keep your pet at home on moving day, set aside a room for them with their favorite toys, food, water, and, if you have a cat, a litter box. Consider playing soothing music or sounds to help drown out some of the noises associated with the move.

Check on pets periodically to ensure they are relaxed and to reassure them that you are there. If possible, wait until the movers have left before relocating your pet. It may appear empty and unfamiliar, but at least it will be peaceful enough for you to gather some of your pet’s items and start your journey to your new place.


Traveling with your furry friend, regardless of the mode of transportation, adds complexity. Make sure you have everything you need to keep your companions safe and comfortable on the road. To make the trip easier on both you and your pet, consider using the services of a professional pet mover.

Professional pet movers are in charge of delivering your pet to your new place as stress-free as possible while relieving you of the burden of handling transportation on your own.

1. Plane Travel

Booking early is recommended if you want to fly with your pet, as approval is given on a first-come, first-served basis. Each airline has its own rules and regulations regarding the transport of pets and pet insurance, so be sure to check with your airline to find out what they require from you. Documentation, health records, and specific types of animal crates may be required.

Feed your pet no less than 5-6 hours before take-off, and make sure to give them water about two hours before the flight. If you can, book a nonstop flight to reduce the stress of the long journey on your pet.

Check with the airline to see whether you may purchase a ticket for your pet. If the airline’s regulations allow it, buying your pet a separate seat may be best rather than putting it through the ordeal of traveling in cargo. It’s good to know that airlines have varying restrictions regarding whether pets are permitted in the cabin, generally based on breed and size.

2. Car Travel

It is advised to have your pet secured in a carrier before hitting the open road with them. Even if you usually take them on short trips in the car without a carrier, longer trips may affect them differently than a quick trip to the store. Animals may become stressed or uncomfortable during long car rides. Even your normally placid pet may rush towards an open door or move agitatedly throughout the vehicle if not crated.

Don’t give your pet anything to eat or drink shortly before your drive to prevent any messy car sickness. Instead, bring some snacks and frequently stop for water and walks. It is also a good idea to bring water from home to avoid changes in water causing digestive problems for your pet.


Research pet-friendly hotels along your journey and plan where you will spend the night ahead of time. Keep in mind that hotel rooms that allow pets tend to book up quickly, so make your reservations early. Make sure to pack up your pet’s favorite blanket, bed, and toys ahead of time and bring them along for the ride. They’ll feel more at ease, and you’ll both be able to enjoy a decent night’s sleep even while you’re far from home.

The following hotel chains feature pet-friendly rooms at some or all of their locations. Some may even provide a small treat and creature comforts for your companion.

  • Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
  • Ace Hotels
  • Kimpton Hotels
  • La Quinta
  • Best Western
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
  • Red Roof Inn
  • Motel 6
  • Hotel Indigo
  • DoubleTree by Hilton
  • Westin
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hampton Inn
  • Extended Stay America
  • Home2Suites by Hilton
  • The Peninsula Hotels
  • Marriott
  • The Ritz-Carlton

Animal-Specific Guide

This portion of the guide contains information specific to transferring exotic pets. As previously stated, all animals should be given a clean bill of health by a veterinarian before being transported. To ensure your pets are welcome at your new home, you should review the local government’s rules and regulations and any homeowner’s associations involved. This is especially true for exotic pets such as fish, birds, and reptiles, whose unintentional release might harm the surrounding ecosystem.

If your pet requires ongoing meds, make sure you have a 30-day supply before you go. Consult your veterinarian about the best ways to transport your animal based on its species, breed, and means of travel.

1. Birds

Traveling with a feathery companion? Follow these guidelines to keep your bird calm, safe, and healthy while traveling:

  • Get your bird used to being in the car before your trip.
  • If you’re driving far, put your bird in a small travel cage. This will prevent the bird from being jostled or injured by unexpected stops or road bumps.
  • Remove perches and toys and lay a small towel at the cage bottom for them to snuggle into.
  • Drape a towel over the cage to provide darkness. Light-blocking calms birds. Fill food and water dishes halfway to avoid spills and secure them to the cage.
  • Talk to your bird while driving, and remove the outer towel when you stop for breaks. You can take the cage out of the car for fresh air and a look around, but leave the bird inside for the entire ride.
  • Check your food and water levels and fill only halfway until you arrive.
  • Secure the cage in your vehicle so it does not move. Try putting it in the footwell or between heavy items.
  • If you intend to fly with your bird, ensure the airline allows birds onboard ahead of time. Pet rules vary by airline. If your flight accepts birds, book yours in advance. Have your bird in an airline-approved cage that fits under the seat in front of you.

2. Fish

Safely moving fish is a multi-step process that demands careful planning and execution. It is best to relocate your fish last, so they are not out of their aquariums for longer than necessary. The number and variety of fish you have, as well as the length of your journey, will determine the most efficient method of transport. Consult your local fish store ahead of time to determine the best manner to transport your specific fish, tank, and accessories.

  • If you intend to fly with pet fish, you should check with the TSA ahead of time to learn more about their regulations. Fish are currently permitted in carry-on bags in clear plastic containers with water. The fish and their containers are subject to TSA inspection and approval.
  • When you get to your new house, make sure to follow the tank setup instructions.

3. Reptiles & Amphibians (non-venomous)

Shipping your cherished lizard pal through parcel post may seem cruel, but remember that this is the primary method by which reptile and amphibian breeders transport their animals. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of transporting reptiles and amphibians, particularly if you plan to fly. Most airlines will not allow reptiles or amphibians into the cabin, only in cargo.

Shipping a pet in cargo is not only a costly option but also a stressful one for the animal. Some companies specialize in shipping reptiles and amphibians. They will take care of the shipping for you for a small fee. If you decide to ship your pet on your own, check with your chosen carrier for details on weight limitations, boxes, and temperature warnings.

Rats, Mice, Hamsters, and Guinea Pigs

When transferring the tiniest of our furry companions, you must consult your veterinarian for precautions, preparations, and supplies. The following are some suggestions for transporting small animals like mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs securely: 

  • Use a compact container for driving to prevent your pets from sliding around and getting hurt.
  • Don’t use shavings because they’ll move too much. 
  • Instead, use a thick layer of newspaper or a waterproof sheet as the base. 
  • Cover the newspaper or waterproof sheet with a nice towel for your pet’s comfort.
  • To avoid accidents, attach food and water to the carrier. 
  • To avoid leaks, fill a water bottle to the brim and level it.
  • Place the pet carrier between heavy items in the footwell to prevent sliding.
  • If you intend to fly, most airlines will not allow these animals in the cabin and require them to fly as “live cargo.” 
  • Get specific guidelines on the types of carriers your airline accepts, then choose a sturdy one. 
  • Ensure the carrier is labeled, so the person handling your pet understands there’s a live animal inside and which side is up. 
  • Securely fasten food and drink containers to the carrier.


Before letting your pet wander free in your new home, thoroughly inspect the property and identify any potential safety hazards. Check that doors and windows are securely closed and that any hiding places that could be dangerous to your pet are blocked off.

After checking for dangers and ensuring your new space is safe, let your pets get used to their new surroundings. Remember that certain pets are especially sensitive to new odors, including those from the previous occupant. One method of gradually introducing your pets to a new environment is to give them access to just one area at a time. It could take your pets up to a month to fully adjust to their new environment, during which time they will want more attention, bathroom breaks, and care than usual.

Picture of Wes Struebing

Wes Struebing

After more than 30 years in the logistics sector, I have learned a thing or two about moving things and motivating people to do their best and offer their all to our customers. Whether in life or in business, I believe in one thing: I only want to be there if I can improve things.

Logistics is not only what I do; it is my passion.

Picture of Wes Struebing

Wes Struebing

After more than 30 years in the logistics sector, I have learned a thing or two about moving things and motivating people to do their best and offer their all to our customers. Whether in life or in business, I believe in one thing: I only want to be there if I can improve things.

Logistics is not only what I do; it is my passion.