Moving house with pets

Moving to a new house can be an exciting, stressful and chaotic time for us, as well as our pets. There’s the initial planning and packing, moving day, then the time it takes to settle into your new home. Pets can also pick up on our feelings, including anxiety and stress. 

Cats and dogs become attached to their environment; the neighbouring pets, backyards, streets and smells. Moving house can be a big change for them and hard for them to understand. They need to become familiar with their new surroundings, so it’s important to give them some extra reassurance over this time.
Here are some of our top tips to help make the move more relaxed for everyone.

Preparing for moving day

  • Try to keep your pet’s feeding and walking routine as normal as possible.
  • Preparing to move; emptying cupboards, packing boxes and furniture not being where it normally is, can be unsettling for your pet. Make sure there is a comfortable place (away from the chaos and boxes) with your pet’s bed, crate or kennel, where they can retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed. 
  • It’s also a good idea to have their travel carrier (with the door open) in their safe space so they can become comfortable with it prior to moving day.
  • Decide if you will ask someone you trust to look after your pet for the day, so they are away from the noise and stress. Or you may want to book them into a boarding kennel or cattery for the day. Find your local Animates Vetcare Cattery here
  • Don’t wash your pets bedding in the week leading up to the move (and after you’ve moved), so they have familiar, comfortable smells.
  • If you are able to visit the new property with your dog before moving day, this will enable them to get used to the new smells and start to orient themselves. You can use treats as encouragement.
  • Does your new house have a cat or door dog? You may need to purchase one that can be installed at the new property.
  • Specific rules can apply for some local councils, around microchipping and permits required for the number of animals on a property (for both dogs and cats). Contact your local council for pet ownership rules specific to your region.
  • Ensure your pet’s ID tag is up to date with their name and your phone number (if your home phone number is on their tag don’t forget to change this out – we recommend using a mobile number).
  • Ensure your microchip details are current, update your home address.

Moving day

  • Disruption and unrest can cause your cat to leave the home while the packing and moving is happening (and it can be difficult to find them again when you’re ready to relocate to the new house). Therefore it’s a good idea to choose an empty, secure room for your cat while this takes place. Ensure everyone at the property knows where your pet is so they don’t let it out - a sign on the door is a great idea! Ensure they have their bed, food and water bowls, litter tray and lots of toys. 
  • The moving company and helpers will be moving items through open doors, so if your dog is with you, you will need to ensure there is a secured, safe space - in the garden, or even a room. They will also need their bed, crate or kennel, food and water bowls and lots of toys. You will need to routinely check in on them to ensure they are comfortable and reassured.
  • Don’t pack you pet’s bedding, toys and other items until last so they have these with them for comfort, and don’t pack the items that will travel with them. Ensure you know where everything is so you can get your pet set up quickly at the new house.
  • Don’t let your pet have food or water in the hours leading up to travel - pets can get travel sickness too, or vomit or defecate when stressed.
  • Transport your cat or small dog in a carrier; ensure a larger pet is safely secured. 
  • If you are travelling a long distance, ensure you have regular water and toileting breaks. Having their favourite toys for comfort will also help them feel more at ease.
  • If it is a hot day, monitor your dog or cat on the car trip to ensure they don’t get too hot and overheat, which can be extremely dangerous.
  • If you and your pet are travelling by plane, you will need to look into the specific requirements for your airline.

Getting settled into your new home

  • Animal proof your new house, ensuring electrical cords, chemicals and dangerous objects are out of reach and blind cords or drapery don’t pose a risk.
  • Select a room in your new home where you can keep your pet safe while furniture and boxes are brought in and some of the unpacking is completed. Some animals can feel anxious after travelling, open their carrier and let them come out by themselves when they are comfortable. You can sit with them and encourage them to come out by quietly talking to them. Ensure your pet has their bed, crate or kennel, food and water bowls, litter tray (for cats) and toys and let them become familiar with this room initially.
  • As your pet’s confidence grows you can introduce them to new rooms of the house. Do this slowly. For your cat, it’s a good idea to wait until the moving company and helpers have gone and the house is a calm environment.  Ensure all windows and doors are closed and secure.
  • Be patient if there are a few toileting accidents while they adjust to the new home.
  • Keep up their usual routine. Lots of walks will help your dog become familiar with their new surroundings.
  • Natural products which mimic the pheromones produced by cats and dogs, such as Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs, can help reduce stress and relax your pet. These can be used before, during and after the move.
  • If possible, try not to leave your dog alone for their first few days in the new home. 
  • Get to know your new neighbours. You can ask them to let you know if your dog is barking while you’re out, so you know how your dog is settling in and get your relationship with the neighbours off to a good start.
  • If you are moving to a new region, you will need to register your dog with the local council. 
  • If you have moved to a new area, you will need to find a new vet. Either take your pet’s medical records with you, or you can organise to have them transferred to your new vet on your first visit. Find your local Animates Vetcare clinic here

The great outdoors 

  • Dogs tend to adapt to a new home quicker than cats. The new neighbourhood will have different smells, other animals etc, so don’t rush this – patience is the key to success.
  • Check your garden for chemicals and dangerous plants that could be toxic, here are some to look out for.
  • For your dog, start off with a leashed walk around the house and garden. Do a thorough check of the perimeter fencing, checking for any holes or broken fencing. Ensure the fences and gates are secure and of sufficient height.
  • If you haven’t moved far, cats can pick up on familiar scents and make their way to your old property. It is important you give them enough time, ideally a few weeks, to become familiar with your new home before letting them outside. When your cat is ready to go outside, start out with short, supervised periods of time (you may even want to use a cat harness). Introducing them to the garden before mealtimes is a great idea, so they can be tempted back for food. If using a cat door, show them how to use it by encouraging them with treats from the other side of the cat door. You can even remove the flap to start with. 

If your pet seems to be struggling with the move after a few weeks, make sure you get in contact with your local Veterinarian. Find your local Animates Vetcare clinic here

*Terms & Conditions. COMPLIMENTARY HEALTH CHECK: Valid to members of the Animates Vetcare Group.The offer is available for first time clients (person or family) only. Complimentary health check is valid for one animal only and limited to a 15 minute appointment. Client must be a Friends For Life club member. Offer not redeemable for cash or products. Appointments subject to availability. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Any medications, vaccines, tests, x-rays, surgery or further treatment plans will incur additional costs.$30 OFF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES: valid for 3 months from first appointment as a new client, can be used for a consultation, desexing, vaccination health check, microchipping or dental clean & polish. Cannot be used for medications, vaccines or products. Must be used in one visit.