Moving with Pets? Check Out These Tips from U-Haul

Moving is a tall task. Whether you’re going a short distance or across the country, there are quite a few to-dos to cross off your checklist before you can call your new house or apartment, “home.” And if you’re moving with a pet, things can get even trickier.

In fact, according to the National Council on Pet Population and Study, “moving” is the number one reason cats and dogs are surrendered to shelters. This tragic, yet avoidable situation is something that all pet owners should strive to overcome, and U-Haul is here to help.

To ensure the safe, affordable, and comfortable relocation of your furry friends to your new home, it's crucial to make the necessary preparations and keep these expert tips in mind.

Planning the Move

Visit the Vet – Getting your pet to the vet before a move might be the last thing they want, but it's an absolute must. You’ll want to do a routine checkup and ensure your pet is up to date on vaccines and healthy for travel. And since you probably won’t be visiting this vet’s office anymore, now’s a good time to get a copy of your pet’s health records for your next veterinarian.

Start the Adjustment Process Early – Have you ever noticed pets act strange when you pull out a suitcase? That’s because our pets are more aware of minor shakeups than you might realize! It’s best to get them ready for the move by slowly introducing them to some of the upcoming changes.

Here are three things to try and help them adjust:

  • Get moving boxes and supplies well ahead of time and leave them out so your pet gets comfortable with the sight and smell of boxes.
  • Leave their kennel or crate out and allow them to go inside or sniff around as desired. When they do go inside, offer a treat to create a positive association.
  • If your pet isn’t used to car travel, start taking them on short trips when possible so they become more comfortable with it. Again, treats help.

Prepare an Essentials Kit – We always recommend that people pack themselves a “first night” kit that has everything they need to comfortably travel on moving day and sleep the first night in their new home. The same applies to pets!

Give your furry friend their own box or bag and pack all the essentials they may need during the trip. Here are some items to consider packing:

  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Food and food bowl
  • Water and water bowl
  • A special blanket or pillow (to keep them cozy and provide a familiar scent)
  • Medications (if applicable)
  • A leash
  • Bags and pads (for potty breaks)
  • Grooming tools
  • Cat box and litter

Having this kit handy not only makes the trip more manageable, but it’ll also be useful when you bring your pet inside your new home for the first time – they’ll have everything they need right there.

Update Their ID Tags and Microchip – This step is crucial. Before you hit the road, take the time to update your pet’s ID tags and/or microchip with your new address and contact information. During a move, pets often experience confusion and stress, and it may cause them to wander off. Having updated identification tags is a great way to ensure that if the worst occurs, they’ll be easier to track down.

Moving Day

Keep Them in a Safe Space – As we mentioned previously, moving can be tough on pets. The commotion may cause them to hide in unexpected spots, create a tripping hazard, or worse, they may try to dart out the door. We recommend providing them with a safe, quiet space with plenty of food and water, toys, and other essentials so they’ll be out of the way and unable to wander off. A spare room, kennel, backyard, or other confined space will work well.

Consider Boarding for the Day – If you don’t have extra space for your pet on moving day, consider boarding them elsewhere. This will help you focus on the task at hand with peace of mind that your four-legged friend is in good hands. There are plenty of doggy or kitty day cares that can offer your pet a safe and fun place to stay while you load up your truck. Or, you could ask a friend or family member to take them for the day.

Have Your Pet Ride Shotgun – Depending on your pet, you may be able to have your companion ride shotgun with you to your new home. Just as it’s important for you to buckle up, the same applies to your pet. Most pet stores carry seatbelt adapters to fit your dog. You can use a crate or kennel for a cat or other small animals. Make sure the carriers are secured and carefully positioned so they won’t be disturbed during the move. Be sure to give them food and water, and routinely take them out for exercise and bathroom breaks as needed.


Never transport animals in the cargo area of U-Haul equipment. Our equipment is not designed for transporting animals and does not provide proper ventilation and airflow. It is a violation of the rental agreement to transport any animals in the back of U-Haul moving trucks, vans, or in U-Haul trailers.

Stick to Their Routine as Much as Possible – All throughout the day, try to keep up with your pet’s existing routines as much as possible. If they have a rigid walk schedule, for example, do your best to get them outside when it's time. Same goes for feeding schedules, playtime, and other routine events. This helps your pet feel calm and comfortable throughout an otherwise hectic day.

After the Move

Take Things Slow – Upon arrival, you may be tempted to let your pet roam free right off the bat. But it’s best to take it slow at first. Choose a room or area that’s just for them and keep them there while you unload. Then, as you unpack more things that are familiar to them, gradually introduce them to other areas of the home so they don’t feel too overwhelmed by their new surroundings.

Help Them Destress – There will be an adjustment period for your pet once you arrive at your new home or apartment. With new rooms and smells to explore, your pet may become frightened or stressed. To help them feel at ease, give them extra attention with playtime and by staying home with them for a few days after the move, if possible. Don’t forget to show them where their new “bathroom” is located!

U-Haul is your number one resource for all things moving and storage! Keep these moving tips in mind, and for all your other moving needs, visit your local U-Haul location or dealer, or start a reservation today online or by using the U-Haul app!

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