Moving house with cats, dogs and other pets can be extremely stressful. Find out how to settle pets into a new home and have a smooth move with all your animals.
Studies have shown moving home to be more stressful than getting married, starting a new job, and even having children. But it can be easy to forget the impact moving home can have on your pets, who rely on routine and familiarity.
So how can you help them adjust to a sudden change in their environment and settle safely in their new home? Here’s a simple guide you can follow at every step of the way.
Moving to a new house involves a lot of admin work – finalising contracts, updating addresses, sorting bills. If you have a beloved pet, it’s important to remember their paperwork too.
If your new home is a fair distance away, you’ll need to find a new local vet. Register your pet before you move to make sure they're covered for any illnesses or accidents they may encounter at the new place.
Make sure their microchip and/or collar is up to date with your new address and contact details. Dogs, for instance, may want to explore their new environment – and with the abundance of open doors involved as you move in, there will be plenty of opportunity for them to sneak out. It’s important that they can find their way back to their new home, should they get lost.
It’s always upsetting when a pet suffers an illness or injury. Don’t forget to notify your pet insurer of your change of address to make they’re covered before, during and after you move. It’s important to look out for them during a stressful house move.
Try to arrange for a friend or relative to look after your pet on moving day or get them booked into a trusted kennel or cattery. This means you can have the space and time you need to pack and move without having to worry about any undue stress on your pet.
Keep the presence of familiar toys around them while you’re packing and make sure not to wash their bedding until a few weeks after the move so that there is something familiar-smelling in their new home.
It’s ideal if your pet can stay with a friend or family member but you might have to consider a trusted boarding kennel/cattery. I If this is the case, make sure your pet is up to date with any vaccinations and flea and worm treatments.
If there is no option of care for your pet, there are steps you can take to make sure the journey remains as smooth as possible:
Set them a safe space where they can relax and be comfortable while you’re moving out. Leave their belongings with them and pack these last so your pet can maintain a sense of familiarity and security for as long as possible.
It’s likely your pet will need to spend some time in their carrier during the move, so try to make sure they’re as familiar with it as possible by making it accessible to them before you move out.
Your dog or cat should never be free within the car environment as this can be dangerous while driving. Make sure your cat is in a secure carrier and keep dogs secure using a car harness or travel crate.
If you’re travelling on a hot day, it’s important to make sure you keep the car cool for your pet. Don’t leave them alone in a car or van for too long as they can quickly get too hot, which can be dangerous. Break up long journeys with plenty of stops so they can drink and stretch their legs. Find out more about caring for pets in hot weather.
Just like us, cats and dogs can get car sick and anxious on a journey, so administer anti-nausea medication in advance or speak to your vet about using anti-anxiety medication for nervous pets – and don’t forget the litter tray.
You’ve finally made it to your new home. But as you begin to unpack, it’s important to give your pet has plenty of time to adjust to a change in their surroundings.
Some pets can find comfort within a few days, but many will take a few weeks to settle while others can take months before they feel at home.
Cats and dogs are territorial, and cats are notorious for disliking change. If you can, try to stick to the same routine you had in your old house when you move. Give them space and time and plenty of love.
Keep your pet in one room where they can feel safe and make sure they have their familiar comforts with them, such as their bed and toys. Unpack their things first so they can see their usual home items.
Scent is incredibly important to dogs – it’s what they use to identify the world and people around them. Bring in blankets and cushions that smell like home. Spritz the same scents you used in your old house. It'll help them feel calmer and reassured.
You can let your pet out to explore their new surroundings at the end of the day – make sure doors are closed so they don’t sneak out and that any access to the garden is secure.
It takes us all time to adjust to change. Cats and dogs can become particularly anxious in new environments. Like us, they are creatures of comfort and habit so give them time to settle and try not to leave them on their own for too long.
Give them time to get used to each other. Keep them separated for a while and get them meeting for short amounts of time initially. Take it in turns to let them into each other’s room so they get used to each other’s smell.