Around 40% of UK households have a pet, so moving with animals in tow is a common challenge. Here are some tips on how to face it.
Moving house is stressful enough for humans no matter if you're renting or buying. But for animals, who are territorial and don’t understand what’s happening, the experience can sometimes prove so upsetting they become ill or even run away.
But there are measures you can take before, during, and after the Move that should smooth out the process.
1. Visit the vet
First off, ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that you have all relevant records and certificates. If your pet needs medication for any existing conditions, ensure you’re stocked up on it before Move Day.
It’s also worth asking the vet about getting some mild sedatives if your pet will be distressed by travelling. And he or she may also be able to recommend a new veterinary practice in the area you’re moving to.
Finally, if your visit is close to your Move date, have your pet’s microchip updated with your new home’s address. If they make a run for it when you arrive, it could make things a lot easier.
2. Don’t stray from routine
It might be tricky with so much going on, but try to keep as much of your pet’s normal routine in place as possible, such as walks and feeding times.
3. Book in a grooming session
We all feel better after a cut and blow dry – and so will your cat or dog. It will also reduce the amount of fur you need to clear up when you arrive at your new home.
4. Unveil pet carriers early
Get out your pet’s basket or carrier a few weeks ahead of the Move to give them time to adjust being around it. Just the sight and smell of the carrier can be enough to panic them as they’ll associate it with the vets and you don’t want the extra stress come Move Day.
5. Issue a temporary ID tag
Regardless of whether you have updated your pet’s microchip, attach a temporary tag on your pet’s collar on Move Day which states your phone number and new address.
6. Consider a cattery or kennels
You might want to book your pet into a cattery or kennels for the day of the Move (perhaps even one or two days either side), saving them the stress and you the worry.
If this your plan, make sure you book in plenty of time, especially over summer when they’re at their busiest. You may want to choose a venue that’s nearest to the house you are going to, rather than the one you’re leaving behind.
7. Make plans for Move Day
If you are not using a cattery or kennels, allocate a designated ‘pet’ room in your old home during the day of the Move. It should be secure, quiet and undisturbed (it’s a good idea to hang a sign on the door to that effect). Then only move your pet at the last possible moment.
Dog, cat and other animal carriers can be simply strapped into the car with a seatbelt. But moving fish and reptiles is a trickier task as they can be sensitive to changes in temperature or just motion. Make sure you seek advice on any specialist containers or equipment you’ll need.
Factor in toilet stops for long distances and, if you are breaking up the journey with an overnight stay, don’t forget to check that your pet will be accepted there.
8. Settle your pet into your new home first
If you have a fish or reptile tank, setting it up when you arrive at your new home should be a priority. You’ll need to keep an eye on them too for the next few days.
Keep cats and dogs confined to one or two rooms and surrounded by familiar belongings. This will give them a chance to familiarise themselves with their new environment – and you the time to pet-proof the rest of the property.
Once things calm down, allow your pet explore their new pad slowly. Give them plenty of attention and treats so they’re reassured it’s a positive and safe place to be.
If you haven’t updated your pet’s microchip already, get it sorted now. Any local vet will do the job.
They won’t like it, but outdoor cats should be kept inside for around two weeks. This will reduce the prospect of them trying to return to their previous home. Dogs should be taken out on gradually-longer walks so they can get to grips slowly with their new patch.
9. Introduce your pet to the neighbours
Knocking on your new neighbour’s door with your cat or dog is the perfect icebreaker and – with any luck – they’ll keep an eye out for them in the future.