Moving homes with a pet
They say that moving house is one of life’s most stressful events, but if you own animals this can add another layer of anxiety for both you and your pets.
There are, however, some great tips and tricks to keep this process as smooth as silk.
Preparation is the key to success. Keeping your pet in their normal routine will help to prevent anxiety.
You will likely be packing up your things for several weeks or months before the final move, so try to keep some areas of your home familiar for your pets. Try not to move their sleeping and eating areas around, and keep litter trays in the same spot, for instance.
Get out the cat carrier well ahead of move day and make sure it is secure for your cat. Leave it open with a cosy blanket inside so your cat gets used to the sight and smell of it within their home environment. If they voluntarily go into the carrier, reward them with some treats in an aim to make it a safe and happy environment. On moving day, they will feel more secure if they are already familiar with the carrier.
With dogs, try to take them for walks in their new neighbourhood before you move to get them used to the new sights and sounds. They will enjoy the change of scene and will notice other dogs living in the area. You may even meet some new playmates while out for a walk.
Animals are always reading our body language so be mindful to keep stress down to a minimum on moving day. (Easier said than done, I know.) Have a friend take care of the animals for the day to avoid the hustle and bustle of moving.
Avoid washing all their blankets and towels before moving. Pets rely heavily on scents to make them feel at home and having familiar smells within the new home will help them settle.
Before you bring your dog to the new home, check the fencing and doors to make sure they are safe and secure. Dogs like to investigate so let them have a good look around and reward calm behaviour with treats or a favourite toy.
They may be unsure of where to toilet in their new home so don’t worry if they have the odd accident. Praise them when they go where you want them to and clean it up when they don’t. They will soon figure it out.
Cats take a little longer to feel comfortable. I would advise keeping them in one room in the house for the first 24 hours and slowly opening other areas once they feel settled. It takes about three weeks for a cat to establish their core territory so keeping them indoors during this time is important. Before you let them outside, be sure that their microchip is registered in case they go missing, and that you have updated your vet with the new home address. (Particularly if your vet is mobile, like us)
Using plug-in pheromones such as DAP diffusers for dogs and Feliway for cats can also help to make their new house feel like home. Always speak with your vet before a big move and be sure you have everything in place to make a successful transition for you and your furbaby.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda