Moving House With Pets
Moving house is an activity that’s stressful for many reasons. With so much to remember and deal with, it’s small wonder that moving is so rare. But if we throw pets into the equation, too, then the ordeal becomes doubly stressful. In this article, we’ll examine some of the ways in which you might make the transition more comfortable for your pet, and in turn less stressful for you.
Preparing for the move
Many pets become distressed when their surroundings become unfamiliar, or when they’re forced into encounters with strangers. In the build up to a move, they’ll be forced to deal with both of these things, as unfamiliar removal people enter the house and start to remove items one by one, until the interior becomes eventually unrecognisable. It’s best to ensure that removal is a gradual process, as a last-minute rush is likely to be more stressful for your pet.
If your pet is uncomfortable with such things, then you might want to have them stay with a friend or close family member while the removals are taking place. You might even want to have them stay in a kennel or cattery. Of course, such things might ultimately be more stressful than the move itself, so you’ll need to decide how your pet is likely to react to the move, and then make the right plans.
It’s best to make an appointment with your vet in the weeks leading up to the move. Don’t leave it until the last minute. You’ll want to let them know where you’re moving, and ask them whether there’s a local vet they can recommend. If your pet is due an injection, then it’s best to get it out of the way now, since you’ll have a great deal more on your plate after you’ve moved house – and your pets, almost inevitably, will be less of a priority. Vaccinating a pet in preparation for a new area is essential, particularly if your move is going to cross international boundaries – so be sure to your pet’s vaccines are up to date.
If you feel that your pet is likely to become distressed during transit, then you might ask your vet to recommend a sedative for the journey. Bear in mind that many of these drugs will have side effects, and that proper dosages are important. You might also consider hormonal treatments, like calming pheromone sprays, during both the trip and the acclimatisation period that follows.
Ensure That Your New House is Pet-Friendly
When you’re scouting for a new home, it might seem obvious that you need to account for the needs of your pets. This is especially so in the case of apartment buildings, which might have strict rules on which pets are and aren’t allowed. If you’ve got a large dog to take care of, then you’ll want somewhere with a garden or easy access to a large park where you can go for walks. Ideally, you’ll want both.
Your dogs and cats will likely be travelling in the same car as the human members of the household – whether it’s in a large cage in the boot or a smaller one strapped to a seat or wedged into a foot well. This means that you’ll be able to offer them reassurances during the drive – which might be required if the pet is particularly needy.
If there’s one thing we want to avoid during the trip, however, it’s an unplanned toilet break. If your car is suddenly filled with the smell of urine, it’s unlikely that the rest of the trip will be as pleasant. In order to avoid this, you’ll want to pay attention to your pet’s bathroom habits in the lead up to the move. What times of day do they go to the toilet? What times of day do they eat? You’ll want your pets to travel on an empty stomach, so plan meals accordingly.
Pets usually soil themselves in reaction to stress – and there are few situations more stressful for a pet than being cooped up in a small cage for hours on end.
After The Move
When you move your pet to a new house, they’ll be in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s important, then, to give them time to adjust to the change. This means a hours, or even days, spent wandering around the interior, sniffing items of furniture, and getting used to where everything is. Some pets will settle in more quickly than others.
But as well as being relaxed about the new setting, you’ll want to allow cats in particular time to get used to the smells and sights of the new home so that they can navigate back to it after they’ve left. This step is an essential one if you’re to minimise the likelihood of getting lost. Since shortly after a move is the time at which cats are at the greatest risk of running away, you’ll want to be especially sure that they’re happy and contented – and that they associate their new home with food, treats and shelter.
For cats, it’s recommended that you allow at least a day before letting them out – though many owners choose to wait much longer. If you’ve got a small garden, then you might look to ‘cat-proof’ it by blocking off any gaps, and ensuring that fences are unclimbable. Of course, this isn’t always possible, so you’ll want to ensure that your pets have the chance to explore, and to return home.
Cats are likely to disturb the territorial boundaries of their new neighbourhoods. Encounters with other cats are likely to be hostile, so be sure that you check your cats occasionally for injuries.
Once you’ve moved, you’ll want to be sure that your pet can easily be returned to the right address when it’s lost. Be sure that your pets are chipped, and that you’ve updated your address on the chip’s database. You might also want to give your pet a collar that’s inscribed with your pet’s name, and a few contact numbers.