Moving home can be a stressful time, especially when you have pets in tow. Our pets are unlikely to know what is happening and can become stressed with their lack of understanding. This will of course depend on what type of pet you have, for example, a hamster, rat, or lizard are not going to be as affected as a dog or cat will be.
Not only will a move be a change for you, but it will also be life changing for your pet, so it’s important that they feel safe and settled while they adapt to their new environment.
Potential Stresses for Your Companion
You may already be thinking about your pets on moving day and what potential events may happen.
While you’re having these thoughts, it’s important to think about what situations could be placing stress on your pet:
- The sudden loss of their known environment
- Changes to their daily routine
- Suddenly having lots of strangers around them
- Loud noises from removal vans
- Car journeys
- Being caged for long periods of time to keep them safe.
- Owners being too busy to comfort them and feeling stressed themselves.
Even though pet carriers, cages or crates are a safe option for your pet, they may become distressed if they’re not used to them.
If it’s possible, take your pet with you when you visit your new home before you move. This will give them a chance to have a look around and sniff out the different scents. If you’re moving home with a dog, take them for a walk around their new neighbourhood, this way when it comes to moving day the new area will feel slightly familiar to them.
Be careful if you take your cat for the first time, they do tend to wander off and may get lost if they’re unfamiliar with the area.
Ensuring You Make the Right Move
Before all the chaos of moving begins, take some time to consider your new home and surroundings in the eyes of your pet. Will there be space for your pet to relax and play? Sometimes moving from a smaller place to a larger one, or vice versa, may cause stress for your pet. For example, a cat or dog who are used to living in an enclosed space may feel unsafe moving to a larger area until they’re used to it.
Could there be any potential hazards to be considered for your pet, and if so, how will you remove these? Is there a garden and if so, is this securely fenced off to prevent them escaping?
Careful planning can help reduce stress for your pet. Not all pets are the same and only you will know what your pet can cope with. If you feel your pet may be distressed with all the activity going on around them on moving day, perhaps it may be a good idea to place them in a boarding kennel or cattery.
You may also have the option of a family member or friend who you trust, that can take you pet for the day.
Trying to keep to their feeding times and walking routine will help them to feel less stressed. After all, our pets are creatures of habit and know what time of day it is, perhaps sometimes even better than we do.
If you’re planning to use a pet carrier or crate, sleep in some old clothes the night before and place these inside with your pet. They will take comfort from your scent and feel that you’re close by.
Plan Your Time
Some pets may become nervous when they see boxes or suitcases. Planning your time and packing at a steady pace will help to keep your pets stress levels down, as well as your own.
A calm and organised packing will help to reassure your pet that their usual routine will not be disrupted too much and that you’re not about to leave them behind.
When you move will you require a new veterinary practice? It’s important that your pet is signed up and registered at your local vets if your previous one is too far away. This is as essential as it would be for you to be registered with a GP surgery or a dentist. If you are moving your pet to a new practice, you can transfer their records over.
Identity Tags and Microchipping
When moving home you have so much you need to remember to do, such as sorting your utility bills and ensuring you have your internet provider in place. It’s also just as important to ensure any existing tags on collars or micro-chips your pet has have been updated with your new details. Being in a new environment your pet may get lost or even run away. If your pet doesn’t have an identity tag on their collar or are not micro-chipped, please get this done, there are so many sad stories of owners losing their beloved animals and sometimes never finding them again.
Pets are amazing, intuitive animals who can become easily influenced by our own emotions. If they sense you’re stressed they may mirror your feelings, becoming anxious themselves. The best thing you could do for yourself, and for your pet is to shield them from any stressful situations, even the best laid plans can sometimes have a couple of hiccups. If your pet is with you on moving day, it would be a great idea to create a room, in your new home, to be your pet’s safe place.
A quiet room filled with their favourite things will help them to feel like they are at home.
If you’re moving with a dog, remember that a tired dog will stress less, so allow for as much play time as possible during the move or take them for a long walk before.
If you’re moving with a cat, remember they like to hide when confronted with new environments, so ensure they have a sheltered area in a room to sneak off to.
Keeping Your Pets Routine
When pets are used to the same things happening at the same time every day it can become tricky when their routine suddenly changes. Trying to keep to their feeding or walking routine is more important than ever when moving to a new home. It will help them to feel grounded and safe while they are adjusting to their new surroundings.
Your pet will need time to settle in. Don’t expect them to be their usual selves in a matter of hours, it can sometimes take a few days or weeks for them to feel back to normal.
Once you’re in your new home and everything has been unpacked, collect your pet, or let them out of their safe place, so that they can have a look around. Ensure all outside doors and windows are shut so there is no risk of them escaping. Dogs will need an extra tour of the garden; this will help them establish where they need to go to relieve themselves.
Try to get back to your regular routine as soon as possible. Knowing where water is and when feeding time is, will help your pet to relax and promote a quicker sense of well-being.
If you have a cat, it is best to keep them indoors for a few weeks after the move, this will help them to build up their scent inside their home.