Tips For Moving With Pets Cross Country

Tips For Moving With Pets Cross Country

moving with pets

Tips for Moving Cross-Country with Pets

The day of the big move has finally come. And when I say big, I mean big. You are about to move across the entire country. You’ve packed, planned, found a place to live in your new hometown, and sorted out just about everything in between. However, one thing remains: how will you bring you beloved pet (or pets) along with you?

Moving with pets can be very complicated. Just as moving is hard on you, it’s hard on your pets as well. They have to move to a completely new place, but they lack your knowledge of exactly why you are moving. Luckily, you can make the move a bit easier on them in a couple ways.

Pet Shipping Services In The USA

The most obvious solution might be to use a service like uShip Pets or Delta Dash. These services will bring your pet wherever you are headed, and they make a point to take care of the pets along the way. However, this will of course cost a bit. The exact cost depends on the size of your pet, what kind of pet it is, and how many you have, but you can generally plan on spending between $150-$300 for a service like this to carry your pet.

Driving With Pets Across The Country

A much more direct idea is to make a big road-trip out of it. Move cross-country with your pet! You can keep your pet in the car with you to keep each other company, stop at fun places along the way. Bring your pet out for a walk at these places if you have a dog or a particularly well-trained cat. Just be sure to bring some of your pet’s favorite toys along for the ride too so they can play while you drive. By following these tips for moving with pets, you and your animals can both get through the move with as little stress as possible! Remember to always load your pets into the vehicle last, and unload them first into your new home.

tips for moving a dog cross countryTips For Moving Across Country With A Dog

  • Don’t pack up overnight, let your dog adjust casually.
  • Try to keep your dog’s routine as normal as possible.
  • Pet your dog and talk to him/her about the upcoming move.
  • Get new dog collar tags with name, phone and updated address!
  • During the move, keep your dog in a room that is safe and calm.
  • Pack plenty of snacks and drinking water for the ride.
  • Make sure to take frequent stops to let your dog run and potty.
  • Stay with your dog and supervise while it explores your new home.
  • Get back to a routine in your new home as soon as possible.


tips for moving with cats cross country

Tips For Moving With Cats Cross Country

  • Don’t pack everything up in one night…cats don’t like it!
  • Give your cat time to adjust to being in a carrier.
  • Get new ID tags with address and phone number
  • Put out your moving boxes ahead of time to let your cat adjust to them.
  • Try to keep your cat’s routine as normal as possible.
  • If you’re cat is very on-edge, discuss anti-anxiety meds with your veterinarian.
  • Keep your cat’s carrier clean as cats hate to be stuck in a mess!
  • During the move, keep your cat in a calm area away from the ruckus.
  • Keep your cat’s breakfast light on moving day to prevent upset stomach
  • Keep your cat in a calm, safe room when you move in to let it adjust to its new home


tips for moving rabbitsTips For Moving With Rabbits / Caged Mammals

  • Keep your rabbit in a calm room away from the moving and commotion
  • Add a familiar toy in your bunnies carrier cage during the move
  • Clean out and replace soiled linens every few hours during the move
  • Keep the diet light during the move to help keep the cage clean
  • Don’t blast loud music during the drive
  • Keep the AC on and the temperature cool…bunnies overheat easily!
  • If possible let them out of the cage to stretch and hop around every 3-4 hours
  • Keep their carrier flat and secure during the drive and drive slow over bumps.
  • Keep your rabbit in a calm room as soon as you arrive to your new home


tips for moving exotic petsTips For Moving With Pet Birds Across The USA

  • Birds get stressed out easily, so keep them in a calm, quiet room during the move.
  • Stock up on your bird’s current food in case it isn’t carried in your new location.
  • Keep your bird’s cage level and secured by a seatbelt.
  • A thin, but breathable sheet over the cage can help your pet bird stay calm
  • Don’t blast loud music during the drive.
  • Make sure your birds are legal in the states your travel through!
  • Glare-guards are good to keep direct sunlight off of your birds during the drive.
  • An airbag deployment could be harmful to your bird, so keep it in the back seat.
  • Try to keep the environment as calm and stress-free as possible during the move
  • Keep your pet bird in the calmest room of your new home while moving in


moving reptiles across countryTips For Moving Reptiles Across The Country

  • Make sure your pet lizards or snakes are legal to own in the states you travel through.
  • Keep your reptiles in a well-ventilated, dark container that they can move around in during the move.
  • Reptiles, snakes especially, may not eat for a few days after a long move…this is normal.
  • Make sure their cage or container is secure and sturdy during the drive.
  • Unload your pet reptiles first thing upon arrival to a calm, quiet room to adjust.
  • Keep all necessary ownership / veterinarian papers on-hand during transport just in case

Keep Calm And Move Your Pets

Overall, I’m sure you can see a pretty apparent theme for moving your pets across the country.  Keep their environment as calm as possible during the move and make sure that all of their basic needs are met.   Animals can sense your stress and they will feed on that, so make sure to keep your nerves as calm and steady as possible too!  If you have any valuable tips for moving pets across the country, I would love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below!

There are 28 comments .

Ginger —

Hi! I found your tips and information to be very helpful, but I am extremely anxious about our move. I have three (yes, THREE!) Chihuahuas and a cat and am moving from Arizona to Georgia. A totally insane proposition I know. My eldest chi is 7 years old and suffers with seizures. Not often, approx. 1 every 3-4 months. I cannot put him on phenobarbital as he gets very lethargic, and bloated. He is the one I am most worried about. Do you have ANY advice for making this trip as calm, and stress free as possible for HIM? thanks!

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    Sienna —

    Hi Ginger! I know your post was a while back but I wanted to see if you have already made the move and how it went. We are moving from California to Kentucky in a few months and I am stressing about the pets! I also have a small dog who suffers from seizures so I am a little worried about flying with him. We considered driving but I have two cats and am not sure how that would work in hotels for a couple of nights…Catboxes in the hotel??? Lol I would love to hear your experience. 🙂

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joy —

Just want to say how valuable your site is to me. I’m moving 1600 miles. I have built a nice moving manual printed from your site. So many good ideas. What a nice service you are providing. thank you

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Kim —

Getting very nervous at the prospect of moving cross country with all of our animals from Massachusetts to Arizona. I’m least concerned about our 2 year old lab/hound, she’s happy and friendly and loves riding in the car. My bigger concern is the cat, 5 rabbits and 14 chickens. With that many, shipping is not really an option and it’s a LONG trip with them and our 3 kids

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Nikola —

My husband and I moved from northern (lower peninsula) Michigan to central Florida with 2 dogs and 4 cats. It was essentially a move of necessity, leaving utter lack of work for free rent with family. I learned a few things that will hopefully come in handy due to the fact that we are now (10 yrs have passed) planning to move to washington state within the next 1-2 yrs. Whereas the MI to FL move took 2 full days with one overnight stay, this will likely take twice that. EEK. I still have 2 dogs and 4 cats but they are all (but one) different. Therefore with different needs, concerns and challenges. I also helped my mom move back to MI from FL (irony) with her 4 dogs and 3 cats. Unfortunately, one of her dogs was old, weak, ailing and the stress was too much. He didn’t make it to MI. It was a worst case scenario situation and it was pretty traumatic.
So what have I learned? (Sorry this is presented very chaotically) Provide calm as much as possible. Cats appreciate a place to hide. A roomy crate if possible, is ideal. I put a shelf in to increase space and make a secluded hiding spot underneath. Cover part of the crate with a sheet for more privacy. Especially the side where you will be opening a door or gate. A long move is going to require a box, decide if you are going to scoop or dump, they (and you) will be happier if its done at every stop. They also need encouragement to drink water. Food is best light. Towels or blankets easy access and trash bags and dirty laundry bags close by. (One of my cats vomited everywhere within the first half hr, also a good incentive to light eating prior) I sedated the cats once for a long (10hr) move and it simply yielded drugged miserable cats. WIthout meds, worked better for me. I do have positive responses with herbals. Natural Pet Anxiety remedy is easy to administer, gentle, safe and effective. Nature’s miracle calming spray has given me good results. Dogs are (usually) more resilient than cats. If you’re stressed they know it. In my experience comfort items like toys and treats are ignored, they’re feeling too disrupted to be interested. If you normally store open cans of pet food, this can be completely impractical in a move, consider smaller cans. WIth pop tops. My biggest problem with my current dogs is they are pretty unruly and not super on a leash so an easy control comfy harness is useful, unfortunately control harnesses aren’t usually convenient for wearing 24/7. On my MI to FL move, we camped. Cats stayed in the car. We pitched a tent, brought in the dogs, packed it up in the a.m. With my mom FL to MI, we found hotels on the fly that accepted pets. Not remotely a stress free plan. the hotels were fine, the booking last minute was crazy. I think what really pushed her dog past his breaking point was that we literally packed up and cleaned her house in time for her to sign sale papers before heading out and the dogs were not allowed inside during this. They were outside, it was florida, it was hot. There was some shade and water but he wasn’t used to that and it was a bad setup for stress on an old dog. I feel like at least this one dog would have been better off boarding for the day or at a neighbors house. We didn’t even get on the road until 4 in the afternoon.
I’m dreading the move to seattle a bit (well a lot) because these dogs are more rambunctious than those we had last time and these 4 cats don’t all get along so great and won’t be able to share a crate in a civilized manner as the last time. Plus my oldest cat (Now 10 yrs old) has a sensitive disposition and has had a frightening bout of (very probably stress induced) illness once in her life already. I have experienced sudden scary pet emergencies and it does, honestly, make me nervous. I put a lot of consideration into making them comfortable and safe for the journey,

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Jennifer —

I am moving from CA to Missouri and we have 3 labs, a German Shepard, and 4 cats. Do you have any tips on how we can fit all of them in crates/ carriers. We have a suburban and a truck. Thank you so much

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    Nikola —

    I’ve never crated the dogs for a road tip, just made a space for them to lay. With the cats, it may depend on whether they get along. On our last big move, all 4 were fine together. I had a large dog crate which was tall enough to add a shelf. I screwed four right-angle brackets to the bottom of a plank of wood which rested securely, about halfway up, on the bars of the crate without any wobbling. they had space on the top and below. On the bottom is where I put the litter box. For water/food there are ways to attach feeders or waterers onto the cage to save some space.

    For my future trip, only 2 of the cats that I have will be able to be together and the other 2 will be separated. I think I will end up using a large dog crate I have that has a divider in it. This will be enough separation and I can always hang a blanket for more more privacy. For the other 2 cats I will need another crate.

    For my mom’s move, she also required 2 crates for 3 cats. She also made a shelf, her method was to secure 2 strips of wood through the inside of the crate, tied them securely and then tied the plank down on top of those. It all depends on what tools and materials you have and are willing to obtain.

    If I had to stack crates, I would make certain they are sturdy. I would probably put planks on top of the strongest crate to spread the weight out onto the vertical sides of the crate where there is better support, and check all sections, joins, connections for weak areas. These I would reinforce however was necessary. I would also consider packing blankets or pillows around the crates to prevent, buckling, wobbling or simply rattling which will help the cats feel more relaxed.

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      Janet —

      This is all very helpful. Within a year or two my husband and I will be moving from Chicago to the Portland, OR area (in Portland or within a half hr or so). We have three dogs and four cats so we will do it via roadtrip w/our animals. We will probably be moving to a pet friendly rental, which is a whole other issue as we will probably fly out there once or twice to find and secure the pet friendly rental, as rentals that allow so many pets are not plentiful and we can’t take any risks. Then we have a 2000 Honda Civic and we are thinking we should sell it before the trip and buy a bigger vehicle either before or after the trip. Naturally we need a big vehicle for this roadtrip so the question still in our minds is do we buy something big and use it for the 3 dog 4 cat roadtrip, or sell first then rent something big for the trip. We are leaning towards buying something big well before the trip. So then logistics of transporting 4 cats for a cross country roadtrip is our main concern. We don’t know how big a vehicle we need mainly because of the cat transport part. Our dogs more or less will be OK. Our phobic dog is pretty young & healthy so she will be OK w/the stress. For cats, your suggestion of building a ledge in a big dog crate may work for us. We maybe could do two cats per crate as long as we have a nice shelf. I hadn’t thought of that. Our 2 boy cats get along but the 2 girl cats so-so. I still need more info on transporting the cats. It sounds like you keep them in the crates even in the hotel rooms, right? We will need to create a device so they can’t get out while I add food and clean the litter. Honestly I’ve been wondering about this roadtrip for a few years. Any suggestions appreciated!

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        Nikola —

        So far, for all the moves we’ve made, the cats were in the crates the entire time. The first trip was 2 full days and a night camping. The second was not fully 3 days driving but 2 nights in hotels. That was the trip where the cats rode in crates in the back of the uhaul. Thats where they stayed for the night. I wasn’t crazy about that arrangement but it was my mom’s decision. I know some folks who traveled with 2 cats from northern MI to northern WA. They brought the cats into the hotel with them. With fewer animals I’m sure that would be better. With mine, I’m afraid settling in to a strange environment would be more trouble than its worth and they would end up fighting. Maybe keeping them inside the crate in the hotel would be okay, if the crate itself wasn’t too cumbersome. Honestly I prefer the camping approach if I can stay close to them, check on them and leave them be. Unfortunately FL to WA is going to be several days of travel and will be a long time to keep them in a confined space.

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        Kodak —

        If you will be using a U-Haul type moving truck, what about towing your car and keeping the animals in the Civic with the AC/Heat on? Or renting a van/truck and towing your Civic doing the same?

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Cindy —

I am moving from NM to PA by myself (I’m 58) with 2 standard labradoodles and two older French bulldogs in July I am thinking about renting a large SUV/minivan or a cargo van for the trip. The pet friendly hotel/motels seem to have 2 pet limits. I really need suggestions about lodging and handling human breaks in the heat since it is too hot to leave the dogs in the car.

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    Nikola —

    If you haven’t already moved, have you checked these sites for hotels: There are actually quite a few. It sounds like it will be a challenge with only one person. Unfortunately the only way to leave the dogs in the car in the heat is with the car running for A/C. I would still be super quick anyway as I’ve heard of problems arising, such as the car stalling.

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    Kodak —

    I have thought about the same (5 dogs, two cats). I’m going to look into camp sites instead of hotel – and/or booking a hotel room on the ground floor, at the back and claim an animal. Do they REALLY, TRULY need to know that I have a small zoo if they are already getting their money?

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    Gem —

    They do not let you rent a van one way across country, only box trucks. I have a small kennel to move and am going to have to buy something to move in.

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Joshua Guttman —

Thanks for the article but I have to point out that you missed the #1 issue on moving with cats – How are they going to go to the bathroom?? You can’t just drop a cat box in a parking lot at Stucky’s and expect your cat to pee and poop. They can’t and won’t hold it all day until you can get to a hotel. That’s what I needed answered.

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    Mainecoon Mommy —

    Having now completed 3, yes 3, cross country moves with my menagerie, i feel like i can help answer some questions and correct some misinformation. Our last relocation was beginning of May from California to Virginia. My mum and I rented one Town&Country minivan and one full size economy car from Hertz for a one way trip. We put both rows of seats in the van down, stacked 4 of our cats, all in separate carriers, in the back, along with 2 ice coolers (one with human food, and one with our red-earred slider turtle), plus their food container and my suitcase, and secured them all with a cargo net and bungee cords. We put the dogs’ beds in the main body of the van and left our beagle and lab/perinean-mix free to move around the rest of the cabin; although i did have to start tethering the dogs to the passenger seat when i wasn’t there after the beagle learned how to operate the automatic sliding side doors. The other two cats rode shotgun with my mum in the car, along with all other necessary items in the back. We drove roughly 6 to 7 hours a day and stopped at La Quinta hotels at night, because they are super pet friendly and dont charge a fee. It took us 5 days. We would stop at rest stops so we and the dogs could pee. The cats did NOT pee or poop in their carriers at all. We let them each out, one cat at a time, to eat, drink and use the disposable litter box, which you can pick up at PetSmart. All in all, it all worked out for everyone, pets and people alike. Please contact me if you have any questions.

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Hanna —

We are 2 months away from making the 2500 mile trip from south Texas to Portland Oregon, shipping what we r taking with us using a upack box and drinking my old truck with me and my 17 yr old daughter and….
2 mice
1 guinea pig
2 cats
a yorkie
2 adult dogs 35 lbs each
and possibly 1 puppy
I am putting a camper top on the truck but any input anyone has would love to hear it.
Only driving the truck

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Rebecca Gresch

If you have a menagerie of pets, large dogs, or pets with special needs, consider hiring a professional pet mover. My husband and I own and operate The Waggin Trail Express, an eleven-year USDA certified company. We stop every 4 to 5 hours to walk dogs and overnight in pet friendly motels. We have made pet moving a stress-free experience for lots of people and pets over the years. We can pick up the pets before the movers arrive and deliver on your timeline rather than the airline’s schedule. We even supply the carriers.

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MaineCoonMummy —

I am so glad I found this page! Having move cross country twice already, I thought I was prepared to do it yet again for a third time! I live with my mum and we have 2 dogs, 6 cats and a turtle! And our little (or, not so little ) petting zoo is moving from California to Virginia (I am still asking myself why?!). Our 2 dogs did pretty well on our last cross-country trek from Florida to Cali, but our kitties were less than thrilled! We did the move that time in an RV because we also had an additional 3 extra cats, a tortoise, and 1 brother to relocate. However, sadly we have lost three of our beloved feline friends and my brother is taking the tortoise and staying behind this time. My main concern is how exactly do we get there?! I mean I suppose we could do another RV but I don’t think my mum or I would feel terribly comfortable seated behind the wheel of something that large seeing as we are both less than 5’3 (my mum isn’t even 5’0! But don’t tell her I told you) . And having them shipped just doesn’t seem like an option. I tear up when I leave my beagle at the groomers for an hour! No way I could part from her and my Maine Coon boys for any extended period of time. So my question is, what options are there available to myself and my animal family?

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Tonya Fokas —

Thanks for all the tips! We have 6 cats 3 rabbits and one rat. I know moving is going to be expensive and stressful on them. I have time to figure everything out, as we won’t be moving for another year or so.

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Luke Smith

I have been thinking of getting a lizard or snake as a pet, and this page has been very helpful. I didn’t know that some state reptiles can be illegal, that it good to know. I’ll have to find out, then see what I would want to get.

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Linda N —

I have 2 cats, brother and sister since they were 5 weeks, they are now 3 yrs. I have never moved, but now hubby is retiring and we are moving from claif to tenn. I am scared, my female is very irritable, even just to visit the vet. any help will be appreciated.

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Christopher J Rowe —

Okay! Thanks for the tips that have shared. A good deal of them I already had knowledge of, which is good thing. However, I have a TON of issues regarding this upcoming move. For starters, we are moving from FL to Philly at the beginning of Sept. As for the other logistics we have a 7.5y/o German Shepherd that suffers from storm anxiety (thunder or other loud bangs like fireworks)and is prone to seizures (1-2 a month depending on how many t-storms roll through! We’ve been having storms DAILY!) Plus, another Shepherd (around 3) and a beagle. THEN, I have to admit that I also have to move 14 cats! I was thinking about renting a decent sized motor home so that they don’t have to be in a carrier for the 18+ hour journey! What would be your suggestions to make this transition (ESPECIALLY the long journey/trip) as smooth and manageable as possible!?!?

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Sheila —

This was helpful since I have 3 Dachshunds, 1 Maltese and a Bourke parakeet. We are going cross country and I am very nervous thinking about their health and comfort during the long drive. I’m driving with the “kids” while my husband drives the truck. Any other suggestions? We do plan on making potty/water stops and staying in a motel overnight.

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Aero Pets

I found your tips and information very helpful. Thanks for sharing these.

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