Brits have long had a reputation for being animal lovers. Indeed according to research by Statistica, in 2022, about 62% of households in this country include a pet, of which the most popular is a dog.
But what happens when you move house? Who will look after the pet? What should you be doing to minimise the stress for the animal concerned? Having a good plan for when you do need to move is a great idea, not least to reduce the stress for everyone involved, pet included! Here are our top tips.
Remove their stress
Moving house can be stressful and unsettling at the best of times for a human, let alone an animal who has no idea what is going on. Most animals, particularly dogs, thrive on routine so any change will be unsettling. Therefore getting them prepared early is a good way of allowing them time to adjust. Get them used to seeing the boxes, things being packed and put away or got rid of whilst still maintaining the usual routine.
Register with a vet
Unless you are moving within your current vet’s catchment area you will need to register with a new one. Make sure this is done before you move so you know who to call on should anything happen while you are settling into your new home.
If you can, arrange for your pets to stay with a friend, neighbour or family member for a few days before, during and after you’ve moved. This will allow you to focus on the move itself rather than worry about the impact seeing removal men, boxes, noise, lorries and comings and goings will have on your pet. Being surrounded by the chaos could be scary for the animal concerned and cause anxiety so keeping them away from it all makes sense.
Pet-proof your new garden
If you have a dog or cat, before you let them anywhere near the new garden or outside space, make sure it’s secure. Check for any holes in the fence or hedges, their foundations and make sure they are high enough to foil any escape artists who wish to jump over, go through or dig underneath.
Settling into the new home
Once in your new place, try to get most, if not all the unpacking done before you introduce your pets to their new home. Likewise, if you have work that needs doing either inside or out, try delaying your pet’s arrival until all the noisy bits are finished. They will already be feeling a bit unsettled so keep fuss, noise and unpacking to a minimum.
Transporting your pet safely to your new home is important. Check the highway code, or your vet, for advice on the correct method of transporting your pet safely and legally. If you don’t already have one, you may need an animal-friendly seatbelt, harness or pet carrier. Make sure you stop off en route if the journey is a long one or if your pet is nervous for comfort breaks. Bring treats, water and towels in case of accidents.
The great outdoors
If you have a garden or outside space, introduce your pets to it gradually. For example it may be necessary to keep both cats and dogs on a lead so they can explore the area safely. A good tip is to keep cats in the house for a few days with a litter tray so they can feel secure in the house. Once they have explored all the rooms and are settled inside you can let them out.
Back to routine
Once you are in with your pet, try to get into your usual routine as soon as possible. This includes feeding at the same time and in the same or similar space as in your previous home. Keep to the same walk and sleep times too.
Familiarity is key
For the first few days, avoid washing your pet’s bedding and toys. This will allow the scent of their old home to mingle with that of the new and help get them used to their new environment.
Time off work
Once you’ve moved, if you can, take a few days off work. This will help both you and your pet settle in and get used to your new home. If you can, avoid leaving them for long periods initially at least. It will benefit you both.
Please seek professional help and support if your pet does show signs of distress or anxiety. The sooner you speak to the vet, and get your pet checked out the better.