Moving House with Pets – Ultimate Guide

Moving House with Pets – Ultimate Guide
Moving House with Dogs, Cats & Fish
Written by Gean Brinker
Removalist Manager & Coordinator

Most people go through at least one move in their lives. One thing that should be on your checklist when moving house is never to forget your pets. But whether you have a pet in your life can make a big difference. Moving with cats, considering how to move fish when moving house, or helping to control dog moving anxiety is important for their health and well-being! Where you might feel excited about the next chapter of your life, your pet is more likely to feel stressed and anxious. Even your fish do not like change! Here are some ways you can handle the move so it is easier on them.

Before Moving House with Pets

Things to think about and do before move day

Some pets are very intuitive and know from your body language, activities, and emotions that something is going on. When moving with a dog they will see your signs of stress and feel stress too. It is important to try and plan some things you need to move out so you feel calmer and less upset. Take the opportunity to think about things like how to move a fish tank to a new house.

Moving with Dogs – If you have dogs and moving to a new home soon you could introduce them to the new neighbourhood before. It is not possible if the new address is far away but if it is within driving distance it is worth it to help your dogs and moving issues about new places. They can explore the new scents and enjoy getting familiar with the location. You can also take the opportunity to look into changing the address on the microchip dog details.

Moving with Cats – You might not realise it because they are good at hiding it but moving with cats is hard on them. Watch your cats carefully as doors open and close as they are more likely to dart out. You need to look at changing my cat’s microchip address as well and have an appropriate travel carrier. Having the carrier around and somewhere they are used to getting into with a favourite blanket for example helps. You could use a system of rewards to get them happy using it. When moving your cat to a new home you should talk to their vet about the process and see if they have any advice. This is especially true if they have any behavioural or emotional issues already.

Moving with Fish – When you are moving and you have fish you might want to find professional fish tank movers to help. The tank needs to be emptied so in preparation for how to move fish when moving house you need to empty the tank of the fish and everything else. Supplies you will need are a fishnet, plastic bags or five-gallon buckets depending on the number and size of the fish, a siphon hose to move the water and then packing supplies for fish tank storage and the other items. Make sure you label.

Moving House with Pets on Moving Day

On moving day

This is a very busy day so it is important you plan ahead on where the pets will be and make sure they are cared for. You might have decided to look into how to sedate a dog for travel so that the many unfamiliar faces and comings and goings do not stress them.

Moving with Dogs – When moving with a dog it could be the best thing to just have someone come and take them so they are away from all that is happening. A trusted friend, family member, someone they know and love. Or you could have them go to a doggy hotel or kennel they have been to before. If you cannot do that then if they are crate trained put them inside in their safe place, in a room that is already cleared and won’t have people going in and out. Check on them now and then and reassure them.

Moving with Cats – Again if you have a cat that has a pet sitter they trust or a family member they like then when moving with cats you could send them away. Or you could place them in a pet hotel or cattery for the day. When taking a cat to a new home on moving day if you cannot place them somewhere else, have them in a room that has their things but is one people know they must not open. Tape a message on the door so movers know. How to move an outdoor cat to a new location is a bit trickier. You will need to get them inside first then put them in the room.

Moving with Fish – People do not always know this but fish are just as likely to become stressed from moving. When you are looking at what to do with fish when moving you need to leave them until the last minute. Also plan on handling them first thing at the new home. Stop feeding them 24 hours before moving. Prepare the new water if needed one to two days in advance. Here are some tips on how to move fish when moving house;

  1. Moving fish get stressed so take a photo of how it is set up before you start taking things out. Then turn the power off to the filter, fan, lights, pump etc. If you have it place things back in their old boxes and try to keep the filter damp.
  2. Do not leave the fish in the tank when removing things. It adds to the stress. This is true even if you are just moving a fish tank to another room. In the live fish transport tanks or containers you have for them, create an environment as similar to the tank as possible. Place some of the tank water into the new container so it is not all new water.
  3. The next step on how to move a fish tank to a new house is using the net to place the fish into the container. Make sure they are not overcrowded and have enough air. Place the plants and coral into their own bucket in tank water. Saving the tank water helps the fish and is especially important when moving a large fish tank with saltwater fish. Use the prepared water if you need it.
  4. Rinse out the gravel and sand and pat it down and store it. Be sure to prepare for how to lift a heavy aquarium. They are fragile and easily damaged. Make sure it is cleaned and dry and pack the lid separately. Fill the tank with packing paper and place it in bubble wrap and in a box. Label the fish transport box clearly.
  5. Take your time moving a large fish tank as positioning is everything in the truck. Do not put anything on top of it and with aquarium removals think about whether something might fall on it.

After Moving House with Pets

Introducing your pet to your new home

When you have moved you need to look at how to move your cat or your dog or fish in with the least stress. If you have fish you need to get them in their fish tank straight away. Make sure you know ahead of time where the tank is going.

Settling in with Dogs – Dogs will want to explore each room and sniff out new smells, it helps to be with them but let them do it at their own pace. It is normal to have a dog anxious in its new home, just have escape exits blocked and reward them when they are being good and reassure them often with love and attention. The best way on how to help puppy adjust to a new home is to give them time. On how to calm a dog in a new home have some of their things from the old home that still smells safe to them, and set up their crate. It is best to have no other people there at this point. Some dogs adjusting to a new home quickly accept the new status and some take longer. If you want to let them into the garden make sure it is fenced and supervise them.

Settling in with Cats –  When moving house with a cat the process of helping them adjust tends to be slower. Cats who are especially territorial will be very stressed. With a cat stressed out from moving it is best to keep them confined in one room at first. When wondering how long should I keep my cat inside after moving it varies from one cat to another but at least 48 hours. Place their familiar bedding, toys, food and water, litter tray in one room. The RSPCA Australia suggests how long to keep cats in when you move that you might take this chance to have them become indoor cats, but with access to a safe indoor/outdoor run area.

Introducing the cat slowly to one room at a time is how to ease a cat into a new home. Let them explore at their own pace and have escape exits blocked. Relocating cats to a new home can go well as long as you remember when they are scared and stressed they try to run or hide. If they were to get out now they would likely get injured and become lost. Talk to your vet about how to calm down a cat after moving if your cat is not settling in.

Settling in with Fish – If moving day was especially hot or cold you should bring the tank to room temperature before you fill it.

  • Moving fish, when the tank is ready check it for cracks and chipping. Then unpack all the accessories and fill it with the base gravel, the sand, the rocks and accessories and other equipment, use the photo if you need it. Do not turn it on yet.
  • Put the fish tank water back in halfway then add in plants and coral. Use the water from their containers to add to the tank and then add the fish back in using the fishnet. Sift away waste in the moving fish containers and fill the tank to the right level.
  • When looking at how to move a tropical fish tank you should wait an hour or two before you turn everything on. Too soon and the disturbed particles do not have enough time to settle. Check for signs of stress and feed as normal.


Routine is what pets prefer so how to make cats feel comfortable in the new home, or dogs too, is to get back to the same routine. Whether moving house with a cat, dog or fish, return to the same feeding schedule, exercise routine and so on. The process goes more smoothly when you prepare and know what to do with fish when moving or with your cat or dog. Remember to make sure you change address on the cat microchip and on the dog just in case.

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