Moving House with Your Pet

Moving House with Your Pet

, by Maeve Reidy, 6 min reading time

Moving house is stressful enough, but it’s even harder on our pets when they don’t understand why they’re being moved!

Changing address can often lead to pets going missing (in search of their previous home) or behavioural problems and sometimes even ill health.

But there are a few steps you can take to make the move easier for your pet ...

moving house with a dog

Things to do before the move

Keep your pet’s routine (feeding, walks etc) as normal as possible in the weeks before the move. Dogs and cats are territorial – they’re used to the area they live in and don’t like change – so they might exhibit behavioural changes or even become ill when stressed. Give them the same level of attention you normally give them.

Visit your vet a few weeks before moving. If you’re far enough away that you’ll need to change vets, you’ll need a copy of your pet’s medical history, including vaccinations and neutering details. Make sure your pets are up to date with their shots. Pets with existing health problems, or who are in their senior years may need a mild sedative if moving a long distance.

You can also get a Pet Pheromone plug-in device to use before, during and after the move. This emits a scent (virtually undetectable to humans!) which mimics the calming scent released by a mother to her litter. It will help your pet cope more easily with the changes that come with moving house.

Confine your pet to one secure room so that escape and/or injury is minimised during the actual move. Leave them quietly with their familiar unwashed bedding and toys. It can also help to leave them with an unwashed item of your clothing, eg a jumper, to help them feel more secure. And yes – it’s a perfect opportunity to forget about doing the laundry, as pets feel a lot more secure with familiar-smelling clothing … including your smelly socks!

Put the pet travel carrier in the room with them, with it’s door open so that your pet can adapt to it before travel day. Quite often, to a pet’s mind, travel carrier = trip to the vets = sore injections of some sort = RUN!!!! If your pet’s mind works this way, it’s quite a good idea to get a brand new pet carrier for them so they don’t have this association.

Leave packing your pet’s toys, bedding and other equipment until the last moment so they are comforted by familiar things. Don’t wash bedding until a good few weeks after the move, so that they have something familiar-smelling in the new unfamiliar house.

moving house with cats


A Pet’s Travel Checklist

  • Veterinary records
  • Recent photographs (God forbid, in case you have to post “Lost” posters)
  • Pet’s usual food and plenty of water from the home you’re leaving (a change of water can sometimes be disorientating and cause an upset tummy)
  • Food and water bowls, can opener, resealable lids.
  • Toys, chews and treats
  • Leashes (both for cats and dogs)
  • Beds
  • Plastic bags and pooper-scoopers for dogs
  • Litter box and kitty-litter for cats
  • Cage covers for birds, rodents & small animals
  • Paper towels for inevitable messes
  • Provisions for the first few days at the new home

If travelling a long distance, prevent travel sickness by not feeding them for 12 hours before the journey. If you know your pet suffers from travel sickness, your vet may be able to provide anti-sickness medication.

Put new identification tags on, preferably with your mobile number. Try to resist putting your pet’s name on the tag – if they do go missing, you want them returned to you and not setting up home with somebody else!

Make sure they get regular toilet and water breaks during the journey. Remember, especially in Summer, when the sun is out(!) the temperature in a parked car can rise rapidly.

moving house with a dog

In Your New Home

Check the boundary fences to make sure it’s secure, of sufficient height and hole-free before letting your pet loose in the garden. If your dog is able to escape, then take him out on a lead until you’re able to make the necessary improvements.

Cats are notoriously curious, so keep them in a secure room with no way out until they acclimatise.

Try to unpack the essentials before introducing your pet to the new house so that they can see familiar items within the unfamiliar house. If possible, try to place furniture and items in similar places to those in the old house.

Choose a small room in the new house to be the interim “pet room” where they can feel secure as you move furniture & belongings. Try to have their furniture, food bowls, toys and litter tray (if needed) in place before letting them out of the carrier.

Give your pets the water you brought from your old house for the first few days - Even though the tap water in your new place may be perfectly safe to drink, there can be very subtle differences in taste or smell that your pet (with their superior sense of smell!) may pick up on.

If your pets misbehave, it may be because of the stress of moving. If you suspect they’re ill, make an appointment with your vet. Don’t punish initially for misbehaviour. Cats, especially, won’t understand and it will only cause them to distrust you. Be patient and allow for “accidents” on the carpets if they happen. Don’t make a fuss, punish your pet or draw attention to it as it may make the problem worse. Quietly pick up the mess and clean the area with a biological solution, or special “pet mess” cleaner to remove the smell. When your pet goes to the toilet in the correct area, be sure to give them lots of praise.

If your pet has been microchipped, be sure to get their records changed to your new address.

Make sure to stick to your usual routines, as this will help them settle. So feed and walk them at the usual times. Don’t give them more or less attention than they are used to as it may cause them to become anxious and lead to behavioural problems.

Similarly, if you always make a Spag Bols for Saturday night dinner and give your dog or cat some of the mince, if it's Saturday and you're exhausted from Moving House that day, you better make sure that you have some mince for Fido!

To help your dog settle in, take them for lots of walks – it will help them get used to their new surroundings.

Box Depot hope these tips will help you and your pet’s move a bit more relaxed!


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