Moving house with pets: the complete guide
Moving house can be a challenging time for all members of the family – and your pets are no exception!
As your moving day approaches, it’s important to consider how you will cater for your pets, at what can be a stressful and confusing time for them. Here’s our guide to helping to ensure a smooth move for you and your furry friends…
Before you move
As with most aspects of moving house, planning is key. By thinking ahead, and establishing a clear schedule for the day itself, you can help to minimise the impact on your pets.
For dogs and cats especially, leaving their familiar home territory can be a traumatic experience. Cats in particular have a nasty habit of doing a disappearing act, and have been known to turn up at their old address several days or weeks after the move!
To avoid any unwelcome surprises for you or the new owner of your house, you should make sure that any microchips are updated and that cats and dogs have an identity collar, complete with up-to-date contact number in the event that they should get lost or escape.
Also check that your pet carriers are in good shape, and the appropriate size for your pets. It’s a good idea to let your pets explore their carrier a few days prior to the move. Popping some food or treats inside can help.
Take a trip to the vet
Make sure your pets are up-to-date with their vaccines and medications. Consult your current vet about dealing with any existing medical conditions during the period of the move, and ask if they can recommend a vet in your new area.
It isn’t just the kids that suffer from travel sickness – pets can experience this too! If you are travelling a fair distance away, or if your animals are not used to extended car journeys, don’t get caught out – ask your vet about possible medication, such as pheromones or a mild sedative (with dosage instructions), to help make the journey that little bit easier for them. You might want to consider taking your dog on a few practice car rides before the move, perhaps to a local park, to get them used to the sensation and help them associate it with something fun and enjoyable.
If you’re moving abroad, you may need up-to-date health certificates and copies of vaccination certificates. Make sure that you fully understand the airline’s policies in relation to transporting pets.
Stock up on treats
It’s worth stocking up on their favourite food and some extra treats, to help keep your pets happy – and also so that you have a ready supply on arrival at your new home!
Update your pet insurance
Remember to update your pet insurance company with details of your new address, and check your policy to make sure you understand exactly what is covered and any exclusions which may apply.
Research your route
If you have a long journey ahead, ensure that you have a clear route and directions, in order to minimise the stress and the journey time. If you’re planning to stay overnight in a hotel, make sure it is pet-friendly.
Consider alternative arrangements
During your move, you are likely to have a fair number of people coming into your home, and there may be a significant amount of upheaval to the normal routine. This can be very upsetting and stressful for your pets.
It may be kinder to consider making alternative arrangements for your pet on moving day, whether this is asking a friend to take them in, or booking them into a local kennel or cattery for moving day, or even for a few days, so that you can get settled in without worrying.
For those more exotic members of the family, moving house can require additional preparation. If you’re looking to transport your tarantula, tropical fish, parrot or lizard, you should research their needs carefully, and consider contacting a professional for assistance.
On moving day
If your pets are travelling with you, there are a number of ways you can help to keep things as calm as possible.
Although moving day inevitably involves a certain amount of commotion, try to stick to as many elements of your normal routine as you can. Begin by feeding your pets a small breakfast at, or as close as possible to, their normal time.
Put together a pet travel pack
Set aside a box containing emergency pet food, water, bowls, a lead, favourite toy, towel or blanket, bags and wipes (for any little accidents) and any essential medications.
Begin the round-up
If you have cats, it’s essential to round them up before the removal men arrive – this may well prove to be an impossible task once the process of moving begins!
Establish a quiet space
Your pet should be placed in a quiet, out of the way corner during the process of the move, until you are ready to load them into the car. If you can, keep them in a closed room, making sure all doors, hatches and windows are shut and that nobody but you goes into that room – consider popping a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.
For smaller animals and birds, put their carrier or cage in a quiet corner so that they will be disturbed as little as possible. Make sure they have adequate ventilation and access to food and water. For short journeys, goldfish can be placed in a plastic bag with their existing tank water. It’s advisable to use a second bag for extra back-up, and then place this into a solid container.
Offer regular reassurance
Give your pet their favourite toy, blanket, litter box and food. Visit your pet regularly to check that they are comfortable and encourage them to eat and drink.
On the journey
Once everything has been packed onto the van, quietly and carefully load your animals into the car. It’s worth lining the dog crate or car seats with a sheet – note that animals shed fur at a faster rate when they are stressed. For cats and smaller animals, if possible strap the carrier in using the seatbelt. Covering the carrier or cage with a light blanket initially can help to calm them down.
When you are en route to your new home, make sure you make regular stops to give your animals a break and some fresh air (remember to use that lead!), and offer them a treat and a drink.
Following the move
Once you’ve made it to your new home, it may take a while for your pets to adjust. You can take a number of steps to help get them acclimatised and establish themselves in their new home.
Do a recce of your surroundings
Before letting your pets loose, make sure everything is safe and secure. You should check the house and garden for any hazards such as loose cables or broken glass, toxic items, anything that could be swallowed, or any missing or broken fencing.
Get bedded down
It’s a good idea to set up your pet’s bed as soon as possible, ideally in a similar location to the previous house. With smaller animals, such as rabbits and hamsters, set up the hutch or cage as soon as you can after arrival and get your pets out of their carriers and settled in with some comfortable bedding, food and water.
Show your dog around the different parts of the house, and once you’re sufficiently established try going for short, regular walks around the local neighbourhood to encourage them to explore and familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
…but watch out for escape acts
It is advisable to keep cats indoors for a few weeks and to feed them before letting them venture outside. This will help them to establish your new home as their base and help discourage any escapologists.
Cats are probably the trickiest pets when it comes to moving. The RSPCA website has some very useful detailed advice on helping cats to settle in to a new home here.
Establish a routine
Work to establish a familiar routine as soon as possible, including regular feeding times, walking and bedtimes, as well as plenty of play.
The Master Removers have many years’ experience of successfully moving the whole family, including furry friends, and we can help to ensure a smooth transition for you and your pets. Find your nearest Master Remover here.