The Ultimate Guide to Moving with Pets in Canada

15 Minute Read
Updated June 3, 2023

Moving with pets can be a challenging and stressful experience for both you and your furry friend. Whether you're relocating across town or moving to a new city, there are a lot of things to consider to ensure a smooth transition for your pet. 

From finding pet-friendly accommodations to packing your belongings, there are several dos and don'ts to keep in mind when moving with pets. Even if you are using a moving company to do most of the work, your pet can still find the moving process stressful.

That's why we've put together the ultimate guide to moving with pets, so you can be prepared for any situation that may arise. 

In this guide, we'll cover everything from how to prepare your pet for travel, tips for a safe and comfortable journey, and what to do after you've arrived at your new home.

With our expert advice, you can make your move stress-free and enjoyable for both you and your furry companion.


Planning Your Move With Pets

The first step in moving with pets is to plan your move. You need to consider several factors, such as the mode of transportation, the distance, and the logistics of the move.

In addition, you may need to find pet-friendly accommodations at your destination and possibly along the way if you are planning a cross-country drive.

To help you plan your move, take a look at some of our top tips for planning your move with pets.

Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Before you move, you need to find a place to live that allows pets. This can be a challenge, especially if you're moving to a new city or state. However, there are several resources available to help you find pet-friendly accommodations

You can search for pet-friendly apartment listings online or check with local pet shelters and organizations that provide resources for pet owners. If you rent with pets, you should also check with your landlord or property manager to ensure pets are allowed in your new home.

Additionally, if your move will take you a long distance, your journey might require a few overnight stops along the way.

Any accommodation you choose for your trip needs to be pet-friendly too. Make sure you call ahead so that you know the rules and any possible fees or deposits required. 

Update Your Pet's Information

Free Shipping - Pet ID Tags

Before you move, ensure your pet's information is current. This includes their tags, microchip, and any other identification. If your pet is not microchipped, consider doing it before moving. This will help you find your pet if they get lost during the move.

If you are moving to a new city or province, make sure you know what vaccines, licenses, or tags are required sot hat you can update your pet's info as soon as you get settled into your new home. Let your pet insurance provider know that you are moving as well to ensure you are covered for the journey and the destination. 

Packing for Moving Pets

Packing up all your belongings can feel pretty chaotic, and it's easy to pack things away and forget which box or suitcase they are in.

Before you start packing up all your stuff, make sure you set aside the supplies your pet will need for the final days before moving, the journey to your new home, and whatever you'll need for the first few days at your new place.

Pet Relocation Services

In some cases, bringing your pet with you on your flight or drive to your new home may be challenging. If you are driving a rented uHaul, for example, or if your pet is not able to fly with you, you may need to consider other methods of transporting your pet separately. 

Pet relocation services can help you get your pet to your new home safely if you can't. This is something to consider when planning your move. You need to plan this in advance and prepare for the additional cost of sending your pet through one of these services. 


Preparing Your Pets for the Move


Preparing your pets for the move is essential to help them cope with the stress of the journey. Your anxiety will be high during this process, so imagine how nervous or confused your pet will be. With the right tips, you can reduce the stress and fear that pets feel when moving. 

Here are some tips to help you prepare your pets for the move:

Pack a Travel Bag for Your Pet

For any long-distance move, your pet will need basic supplies to stay safe during travel. Driving cross country with pets requires a variety of supplies to keep your pet safe and comfortable for multiple days don't the road. 

Here's a list of basic supplies for moving cross country with pets:

Introduce Your Pet to their Carrier or Crate

If you're travelling by car or airplane, your pet will need to be in a carrier or crate during the journey. To help your pet feel more comfortable, gradually introduce them to their carrier or crate.

Start by placing their food and water bowls inside the carrier or crate and leaving the door open. Once your pet is comfortable with this, try closing the door briefly while you're home.

Keep Your Pet's Routine as Normal as Possible

Pets thrive on routine, so try to keep their routine as normal as possible during the move. This includes feeding them at the same time each day, taking them for walks, and playing with them.

Keeping their routine consistent will help them feel more at ease during the move. This can be challenging, especially on moving day, but taking the extra time to provide them some stability will be worth it. 

Talk to Your Veterinarian

Before you move, talk to your veterinarian about any medications or sedatives that may be helpful to keep your pet calm during the journey.

They may also recommend a health checkup to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to travel. It's also smart to ensure your pet has the right vaccines and stock up on any prescriptions that may be needed.

Keep your Pet Occupied While You Pack

Packing up a whole house can be very disruptive to your pet's normal routine. Boxes everywhere, extra people stopping by to help, and plenty of mess can make your pet uneasy.

Additionally, packing supplies like tape, styrofoam, string, and bubble wrap can be dangerous to a curious pet. 

Giving your pet fun activities to occupy them, keeping them well-exercised, and giving them plenty of attention can help reduce stress and destructive behaviours. Consider having a friend or neighbour pet sit, try doggy daycare, or section off an area of the house where your pet can stay clear of the chaos. 


Travelling Safely When Moving with Pets 

Once moving day arrives, no matter how prepared you feel, getting to your new home can still feel a bit stressful. Travelling with pets can be challenging, but there are several things you can do to make the journey comfortable and safe for your pet.

The travel gear you need and the tips you can follow will depend on the distance you are going and the method of transportation you choose.

When moving within Canada, you may choose to drive, fly, or even take the train to get to your new home. Whatever method you choose will depend on which option is safest for your pet.

Here are some tips for the travelling portion of your move with pets:

Tips for Driving with Pets

jack-russel-in-car-harness (1)

The most common option for moving with pets is to drive. Whether you are driving across town or all the way across the country, driving is preferred by most pet owners because it is often cheaper and less stressful than travelling by plane or train with your furry friend.

Here are a few tips and considerations for driving with your pet:

    • Pack the Right Supplies - If your drive is short, then only basic supplies will be needed, like a leash, collar, and harness to get your pet safely and securely from the car to the house. Long-distance road trips with your pet require more planning and supplies. You will need to have everything from food and water to toys, treats, a bed, and even some cleaning supplies to make your multi-day drive less stressful.
    • Secure Your Pet - If you're driving with your pet, no matter how far, make sure they are secured in a carrier or crate or use a dog seat belt or pet barrier to keep them from roaming free in the car and causing distractions while you drive.
    • Take Frequent Breaks - Plan to take breaks every few hours to let your pet stretch their legs and use the bathroom. If your driving companion is a cat, bring a fresh litter box and make sure they have a space in the vehicle that isn't too congested to use the bathroom when you stop without feeling uncomfortable.
    • Pets Alone in the Car - It's never a good idea to leave your pet alone in the car. Cars get dangerously hot very quickly in the summer. It's best to travel with a human companion or a convoy so that one person can stay with the pet when you need a bathroom break.  


Check out our post on the Best Dog Car Seats for more tips for road-tripping with dogs. 


Tips for Flying with Pets


Another option for moving your pet long distances is to fly. Flying can significantly shorten travel time and will limit how long your pet will be stressed about travel.

This can seem like the better option for some, but there are some things to consider before choosing this method of travel for your pet.  

Here are some things to keep in mind if you choose to fly with pets:

    • Check the Airline Rules - Every airline is different, so make sure you are 100% clear on the airline's rules before buying a ticket for your pet. Some airlines require a health certificate from your veterinarian, and most have very strict rules about where and how your pet can fly. 
    • Pets in the Airport - Pets must be secured the entire time they are in the airport. Some airports have pet relief areas where they can use the washroom inside, but other than that, your pet will most likely need to be in a secure crate or carrier. 
    • Pets on the Plane - Small breed dogs and cats can often ride in the cabin with you, provided they can comfortably fit in an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat, while medium and large pets must ride in the pressurized cargo bay in a hard-sided crate. 
    • Flying is Fast- Flying has its pros and cons too. Speed is the number one convenience. Instead of 4 days of travel to move from Ontario to Alberta, you can get the travelling portion of the move over within 6-8 hours.
    • Flying is Stressful - Unfortunately, flying with pets can be quite stressful. The airport and the plane ride can be pretty scary for a pet, especially if they are travelling separately from you. Pets can panic and even get injured during travel if they have a total freak out.  


Learn more tips for safe plane travel with pets in Flying with Dogs.


Tips for Taking the Train or Bus with Your Pets

These methods of transportation are much less common because the rules for travelling by train or bus with pets are very limited. If pets are allowed at all, they more often than not only allow small breeds and cats that fit under the seat. 

It's important to check with the train or bus company before you purchase tickets. For those pets that are allowed, you'll likely find the rules to be quite similar to plane travel with pets. 


Settling Into Your New Home with Pets


Once you've arrived at your new home, it's important to help your pet settle in. Not only will the house have unfamiliar smells, sights, and sounds, it could take days to get all your furniture and belonging unpacked, so the house will be chaotic for a while. 

To prevent unwanted behaviours, anxiety, and accidents in the house, it's important to introduce your pet to their new home the right way. 

Here are some tips to make the transition smoother for your pet:

Show Them the Bathroom Right Away

The first thing you should do when you get to your new home is take them to the appropriate bathroom. Whether you have a backyard, training pee pads, or litter box, showing your pet the appropriate spot to relieve themselves can help prevent accidents in the new home. 

Create a Safe Space for Your Pet

Create a safe space for your pet where they can feel comfortable and secure. This could be a specific room or area of the house where your pet can retreat to when they need some alone time. This is especially helpful during unpacking when the house is high traffic or if doors must be left open to haul furniture and boxes.

Introduce Your Pet to the New Environment Gradually

Introduce your pet to the new environment gradually. Too much too fast can be overwhelming, so start by letting them explore one room at a time and gradually introduce them to other areas of the house. This will help your pet feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.

Keep Your Pet's Routine Consistent

Keep your pet's routine as consistent in their new home as possible. This includes feeding them at the same time each day, taking them for walks, and playing with them. Consistency is key to helping your pet feel more at ease in their new environment.

Set boundaries for the attention you give your pet during this process too. Once you've settled in, you need to get back to your normal routine. Doting on your pet too much could leave your pet feeling left behind when you have to go to work, school, or other activities that require you to be out of the house. 


Common Challenges of Moving with Pets

Moving with pets can be stressful, and there are several common challenges that pet owners may face. Here are some of the most common issues that arise during the moving process and how to overcome them.

Separation Anxiety

Pets may experience separation anxiety during the move, especially if they are leaving their familiar surroundings. To help your pet cope with separation anxiety, create a safe space for them in your new home and keep their routine as consistent as possible.

Motion Sickness

Pets may experience motion sickness during long drives or flights. To help your pet cope with motion sickness, talk to your veterinarian about any necessary medications or try feeding your pet smaller meals before the journey.

Anxiety-related nausea can also be a problem. An overly stressed pet may feel sick, can overheat, or may refuse food and water, leading to lethargy or dehydration. Natural pet calming treats or supplements may help to settle your pet and reduce nausea. 


Pets may try to escape during the move, especially if they are feeling stressed or anxious. To prevent your pet from escaping, make sure their carrier or crate is secure and keep a watchful eye on them during the journey.

This is also a concern during the move-out and move-in process. Moving large furniture or multiple boxes may require you to leave doors open, and a stressed pet may take the opportunity to run outside. 

Finding a New Pet Services

If you aren't moving very far, this might not be an issue, but moving cities or provinces means finding a new vet, pet store, groomer, doggy daycare, or dog park, just to name a few.

It's a good idea to research these things before you move and reach out to vets or other pet services that you may need to find out how long it will take to get appointments, what services are and aren't offered, and how much they will cost.

This will make the transition easier and ensure the services you need are readily available should you need them. 

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Moving to Canada with Pets

Every country has different rules and regulations for bringing pets into the country. If you are moving to Canada with your pet, then there are a few things you need to be prepared for. 

    • Dogs and cats entering Canada have documentation of current rabies vaccines.
    • You may be required to bring documentation of ownership of the pet prior to entering Canada.
    • Be prepared for an inspection by a Canada border service agent upon arrival to determine if your pet meets live animal import regulations. 
    • Pet food and treats travelling with your pet must be a product of Canada or the US and must be in their original packaging. 

Different rules may apply if your dog is travelling separately from you. Make sure you check out the Government of Canada website for clear and specific instructions for bringing your pet into the country. 


Moving With Pets FAQs

How Does Moving Affect Pets?

Moving is stressful for everyone but also quite confusing and scary for pets. They don't understand what's happening, so all this change and activity can be pretty scary. Taking the right steps to reduce the stress of a move can help your pets adjust to their new home and keep them safe during the process. 

What are the biggest risks when moving with pets?

Pets are going to feel anxiety during and after the moving process, but one of the biggest risks of moving with pets is that they may get scared and try to escape. The move-out, travel, and move-in process leave lots of opportunities for your pet to slip out if you aren't paying attention and taking the proper precautions. 

How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Adjust to a Move?

Most dogs adapt within a couple of weeks of being in their new home, but more anxious pets may take longer. Consider other factors that may make the change scarier, too, like moving from a quiet neighbourhood to a busy or loud one, moving from an apartment to a multi-story house, or having new housemates, kids or pets in your new home.

How Long Does it Take a Cat to Adjust After Moving?

Cats can be a little more particular about their environment, and this can lead to more anxiety about the move. It can take more than a week for your cat to feel safe moving about the house and several more weeks for them to feel truly comfortable in their new home. 


Moving Pets Doesn't Have to Be Hard

Moving with pets can be a challenging experience, but with proper planning and consideration, you can make the journey stress-free for both you and your furry friend. 

Remember to plan your move, prepare your pets for the journey, choose the right mode of transportation, and create a safe space for your pet in your new home. 

With these tips, you can make your move a success and enjoy your new home with your beloved pet.

Written by

Krystn Janisse

Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She is currently working for one very rebellious cat, Jack, and hanging out with a goofy but loveable doggo named Roxy.


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