Your complete guide for moving to Des Moines with pets

Moving is stressful enough for humans. Imagine how stressful it must be for our furry friends! Most pets handle a move without too much trouble, but others get a little anxious with all the changes. As a pet owner, there are things you can do to make Fido and Felix’s move easier – and less stressful (for you and them!).

Tips for moving with your pets

Prep a doggy or kitty bag. Prep a kit with all the essentials your pet will need for travel and the move. Include the following:

  • Food
  • Treats
  • Food and water bowls
  • Medications
  • Collars, leashes, and/or harnesses
  • Toys
  • Grooming supplies
  • Blanket
  • Vet records (especially rabies shots)
  • Picture of your pet(s)
  • Emergency phone numbers

Pack your belongings slowly. If you’re rushed and packing everything up just a couple days before the move, your pet(s) will feel more stress. Not only will they sense your anxiety about the move, but all the changes (and boxes) will be confusing to them. Take your time and pack a few boxes a day, so there’s less change all at once.

Make arrangements for moving day. Pets get especially stressed on moving day when people are in and out of the house. Things can get a little noisy, items are moved around, and it’s not part of your pets’ regular routine.

Also, since doors will be open quite often, the opportunity to escape the stressful environment might be tempting for your fur baby. cat

Keep your pet(s) in a separate, quiet room, arrange for them to visit family or friends, or put them in a kennel for the day. If you have them around, but in a separate space, check on them often. 

Move your things before moving your pet (when possible). To reduce stress and make the transition easier for your pet(s), set up their “things” in your new place before you introduce them to their new home.

Also, make sure the new home is safe for your pet(s). Be mindful of anything harmful they could ingest or small spaces they could crawl in and “hide” (i.e., get lost or stuck).

If you’re still moving things into your new place and your pet is there, keep them in a separate space away from the action (with food and water – and a litter box for cats). Wait until things have settled down and doors are closed to introduce them to their new home. 

Gradually introduce them to their new home. Take your pets’ lead. If you have an anxious pet, start by having them in one room. Let them get used to the new smells and sounds before introducing them to the rest of the house. 

For dogs, gradually introduce them to the new outdoor space too. Start with one area and gradually explore more areas – on a leash. If you have a fenced in yard, make sure you check the fence for places your dog could escape – and watch your dog the first few times you let them out.

Update their address. Don’t forget to change the address on the pets’ tags and update the information on their microchip.

Get appropriate licenses or certificates. Each area has different ordinances and requirements for pets. Find out what you need to do to make sure your pet complies with local rules and regulations.

Moving to Des Moines with pets

There are many pet-friendly businesses and services in the Des Moines area. Check out our list of pet-related businesses below!


If you’re bringing your furry friends to Des Moines with you, you might need a safe and comfortable place for them to stay, whether it’s overnight or a few hours. Below are just a few of the many boarding and pet sitting options available. dog

Dogwoods Lodge 515-986-PETS
Avondale Pet Resort and Spa 515-262-7297
4 Paws Unleashed 515-987-7918
Fetch Pet Care (pet sitters) 888-229-5721
Downtown Doggy Day Care 515-288-0957
Ankeny Bark Avenue 515-444-5112

Emergency Vets

Blue Pearl Pet Hospital 515-727-4872
Iowa Veterinary Specialties 515-280-310

Dog Parks

Ankeny Dog Park Requires an annual pass. 7.5 acres of fenced green space with a pond. Areas for big dogs and small dogs.
Raccoon River Dog Park Located in West Des Moines. Requires an annual pass. 10-acre fenced area for small and large dogs. The park provides poop bags and water jugs.
Windsor Heights Dog Park Located in Windsor Heights. No pass required. This is a smaller dog park with areas for small and large dogs. (Bring water, as water is not on site.)
Ewing Dog Park Located in Des Moines. Requires an annual pass. 8.5-acre fenced area for all dogs. Offers separate, one-acre area for small dogs. Water fountain available during warmer months.
Riverwalk Dog Park Located in Des Moines. Requires an annual pass. 4-acre fenced area for all dogs. (Bring water, as water is not provided on site).
Reno Memorial Dog Park Located in Des Moines. Requires an annual pass. 3.5-acre fenced area for all dogs. (Bring water, water is not provided on site). Note: this park closes during times of flooding.

Pet-Friendly Stores and Restaurants

You can take your dog to many of Des Moines’ Downtown outdoor events – including the Downtown Farmer’s Market.

Here’s a short list of dog-friendly businesses in the area:

  • Snookies Malt Shop
  • Jett & Monkey’s Dog Shoppe
  • Bass Pro Shop
  • Raygun
  • Van Dee’s Ice Cream Shoppe
  • Menard’s
  • Home Depot

For a complete list, check out the Animal Rescue League’s list of local Pet Friendly Businesses.

Getting a pet license

Most cities require cats and dogs to be licensed. If you’ve licensed your pet in another city, many cities allow you to transfer the permit free of charge. To license your pet, you’ll generally need a rabies certificate and proof of spay/neuter (if applicable). 

Below is information on pet licenses in and around the Des Moines Metro:

Des Moines Animal Licensing
West Des Moines Dog and Cat Licenses
Urbandale Pet Licenses
Clive Pet License
Waukee Pet Licenses
Ankeny Pet License

If you need more info on the City of Des Moines animal licensing or have questions, check out Des Moines’ Pet Q&A’s.

With a little planning and preparation, you can help reduce moving-related stress for your pet (and you too!). And once you’re settled into your new home in the Des Moines area, enjoy all the pet-friendly places the city has to offer!

Moving to Des Moines? Check out Moving to Des Moines: What You Need to Know

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re here for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com