Tips on moving house with pets
Moving house with pets can be especially stressful for both the owner and the pet. Both cats and dogs are territorial animals and become attached to their own surroundings and as such need some extra care and attention when you move home. Animals also pick up on human tensions; if you feel overwhelmed then your pet will too.
Before you move there are a few simple things you can put in place to ensure your pet is comfortable. Consider getting your dog groomed the week before moving home, this will give you time, once you have moved, to get to know your new area before needing this service again.
- Make sure you have an updated identity tag for your pet ready for your moving day; this will increase the chance of them being returned safely if they escape or get lost. Include your name, new address and contact telephone numbers.
- If your pet is getting distressed with you packing and moving furniture, keep them out of the room where you are working. Make sure you leave their bed, favourite toy, food and drink to the last moment so they are comforted by familiar items.
- Animals are often disturbed by strangers, and will benefit from staying with a familiar friend or relative on moving day and maybe a few days after the move so you can sort out the house and boxes without unsettling them. If you are travelling a long distance you may want to consider a sedative, but remember that dogs and cats can also suffer from travel sickness.
Transporting your pet
If you are driving and taking your pets with you, plan your route and include enough time for stops. Make sure you pet carrier is fully functional; allowing your pet to roam freely in the car is dangerous. You will need to take water and a drinking vessel for your pet. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.
We spoke to vet Charlie Forman from Shires Veterinary Practice (www.shiresvets.com) and he highlighted “The stress of transport (due to restriction in crate / travel box / car boot / motion for a period of time) can cause some animals to additionally experience motion or travel sickness, making them, drool / feel nauseous or vomit.
Pets that show early signs of stress in the home environment (strangers, changes in house or routine) should be identified and the transportation process should be planned carefully. If longer distances are being travelled then plan in advance. Try to get your pet used to being in the car by taking them on short journeys. Also get cats used to being in a travel box, make this a positive experience for them by feeding them in their box for few weeks before the move so they associate it with being a good place.
If moving dogs and cats abroad then seek advice on the size of crates required from the transport company and ensure your pets have the opportunity to acclimatise to box well in advance of travel.”
Settling pets into their new home
Once you have moved, leave it at least two weeks before washing your pets bedding as this will have a familiar smell to it.
Change the address on your pets chip, inform your vets and change the address on your pet insurance. If moving out of area, ask your existing vet if they can recommend one near your new home. Make sure you get a copy of your existing vet records to take with you.
Pets will need some time to settle into their new surroundings, make sure they know where their bed is and where they can find food and water. Make sure your garden is secure and check the fencing for any gaps.
Top tips for moving house with cats
- It is recommended to keep cats inside for several weeks before letting them out. When the time is right withhold food for approximately 12 hours, this way you can call them back with food if they start to stray.
- It is not unusual for a cat to rub against furniture to mark it with their scent. You may want to rub your cat’s face with a cloth and then wipe this on doorframes at their level; it will reinforce their bond with the property.
- An old wives tale to stop cats straying is to put butter on their paws; supposedly while the cat is licking it off it will become familiar with its new surroundings.
Top tips for moving with dogs
- Stay with them initially, get them settled and make sure they know where their bed, water and food are. Avoid overly fussing as unfortunately this tends to reinforce the negative behaviour.
- Establish routines quickly, waking, feeding, walking and bed time. Do not change their food as this can cause them to become unsettled.
- Introduce your dog to your new neighbourhood slowly. Start with short walks and gradually make them longer.
Top tips for rabbits / guinea-pigs
- These animals are not often used to car journeys etc. Keep them in the groups that they currently live with for transportation.
- Encourage a quiet environment, tuck them out the way, ensure no change in type / brand of food / hay and monitor them for reduced appetite.
- Gut stasis is a relatively common effect of any stress / illness in these species so keep an eye out for reduced / cessation of passage of faeces (any concerns seek advice from your vet immediately).
Medication is available for stressed pets. There are pheromone diffusers for cats and dogs and oral supplements which can be sourced from your vet and used to help reduce stress before, during and after moving home. Your vet can advise you on such products. They need up to 2 weeks before maximum benefit so need to be started in advance of the actual move.