How to help a pet adjust to a new time zone after a long-distance move?

Moving is a stressful event for everyone, including your pets. Whether you have a dog, cat, or any other pet, adjusting to a new home and time zone can be a challenging task. Pets, just like humans, can experience anxiety and stress during this time. It is your responsibility to ease their transition and help them adjust to their new environment. This article will provide you with comprehensive strategies to make this task less daunting. We’ll focus on how to help your pets, especially dogs and cats, adjust to new time zones after a long-distance move. The American Kennel Club (AKC) offers many of these strategies for dogs, but many can also be beneficial for your feline friends.

Understanding Your Pet’s Anxiety and Stress During a Move

Moving to a new home is a significant change for your pets. They have to leave their familiar surroundings and adjust to a new environment, which can cause anxiety, stress, and even poor behavior. Recognizing that your pet may feel this way is the first step in helping them cope.

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Cats and dogs have a keen sense of time. Their feeding, sleep, and play routines are often set to a specific schedule. When you move, especially across different time zones, this schedule gets disrupted. Your pet may feel disoriented and become anxious because their internal clock is out of sync with the external environment.

When dogs experience stress or anxiety, they may exhibit behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing, or pacing. Cats, on the other hand, might hide, over-groom, or become more vocal. Understanding these signs of stress can help you intervene quickly and provide the necessary support.

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Preparing Your Pet Before the Move

Preparation is key when helping your pet adjust to a new time zone. A few weeks before the move, start to shift your pet’s routine gradually. This way, the time change won’t be as drastic for them.

Start by adjusting your pet’s feeding and sleeping schedule gradually, going in 15-minute increments. Do this until their schedule matches the time zone of your new house. This might mean feeding or walking your dogs at odd hours, but it will help their internal clock adjust to the new time zone.

When packing, keep your pet’s necessities like their food, water, and favorite toys readily available. Make sure their carrier is comfortable, as the car or plane ride can also add to their stress.

Making the Journey Comfortable for Your Pet

The journey to your new home can be a major source of stress for your pets. It’s your job to make it as comfortable as possible for them. The AKC recommends taking frequent breaks if you’re driving, to let your dog stretch their legs and relieve themselves. If you’re flying, discuss with your veterinarian about the best options for your pet.

During the journey, make sure your pet has access to fresh water and food. However, be cautious about feeding too much, as this can lead to motion sickness in the car or airplane.

Also, try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible during the journey. If your dog is used to a walk at a particular time, try to keep that schedule.

Helping Your Pet Settle in the New House

Upon reaching your new home, it’s time to help your pet settle down. Spend time with them, showing them around the new environment. This will help them feel safe and secure.

Keep their routine consistent, sticking to the schedule you started before the move. This will help their internal clock adjust to the new time zone. Re-establishing their routine quickly can reduce anxiety and help them feel more at home.

Make sure to keep their bed, toys, and feed bowls familiar. This will give them a sense of familiarity amidst the change. Also, try to keep their diet consistent, as sudden changes can cause digestive issues.

Dealing with Post-Move Anxiety in Pets

Even after doing everything you can to make the move smooth for your pet, they may still exhibit signs of stress or anxiety. If these signs persist for more than a few weeks, it may be time to seek professional help.

Your veterinarian can provide advice and possible treatment options. They may recommend ways to further adjust your pet’s routine, or suggest supplements or medications to help with the anxiety.

In addition, consider hiring a professional dog trainer or pet behaviorist if your dog is having a particularly hard time adjusting. They can provide insight into why your dog may be behaving a certain way, and offer solutions for modifying their behavior.

Moving and adjusting to a new time zone can be a stressful experience for your pet. But by preparing them beforehand, making the journey as comfortable as possible, helping them settle in, and providing support post-move, you can make the transition much smoother for your furry friend. With patience and understanding, your pet will eventually adapt to their new environment and routine.

Encouraging Exercise and Providing Safe Spaces

To help your pet adjust to their new surroundings, it’s necessary to keep them active and provide a safe space. Frequent exercise, like walks and playtime, can relieve stress in pets, especially dogs. A tired dog is a content dog. Hence, incorporating activities like dog sports into their routine can help them burn off energy and reduce anxiety. Look around your new area for dog parks, or open spaces where your dog can run and play.

For cats, providing a safe space where they can hide, especially in the early days of the move, can help reduce their stress levels. This may include a cozy corner with their favorite blanket or a cat tree where they can perch and observe their surroundings. Dogs too can benefit from having a den-like safe space, such as a crate or a particular room.

Remember, the main aim is to help your dog or cat feel secure in their new environment. Therefore, try to limit any changes to their routine or surroundings in the days following the move.

Engaging with Your Pets After Moving

Post-move, it’s crucial to spend time with your pets. Moving house can be a disorientating experience for them. Dogs and cats depend on their human companions for reassurance and comfort. Keeping them close, cuddling, and reassuring them that they are safe will help them adjust to their new home.

If your pet appears distressed, try distracting them with their favorite toys or games. Just like humans, pets can benefit from a distraction to break the cycle of stress and panic.

Remember, every pet is different. Some may take days while others may take weeks or even months to adjust. Be patient and understanding with them. The goal is to ensure they feel as comfortable as possible in their new home.


Moving across country and adjusting to a new time zone is a major event for your pet, and it can trigger stress and anxiety. However, by understanding your pet’s anxiety, preparing them for the move, making the journey comfortable, helping them settle in, and providing post-move support, you can help your pet transition smoothly.

Keep your pet’s routine as consistent as possible, provide familiar items for comfort, and ensure they have a safe space in the new house. Encourage exercise and engage with your pets to help them feel secure and loved. Remember, patience and understanding are key.

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your pet’s anxiety persists. Veterinarians, dog trainers, or pet behaviorists can provide valuable advice and support. With these strategies, you can help your dog adjust or cat adapt to their new house and time zone, ensuring a positive start in their new home.