Moving to a New House with your Pet
Moving to a New House with your Pet
Moving home can be just as stressful for your dog or cat as it is for you. The change to a new house can leave your pet feeling disorientated, anxious and confused. It can also lead to changes in their behaviour as they adapt to the new surroundings.
In this article, OSCAR Pet Foods’ Pet Behaviour Counsellor, Shelley Audis-Riddell BSc (Hons) MSc, shares her advice to make the 'big move' easier for your beloved friend.
Preparing to move
Pets can usually sense when change is afoot! Even in the early stages of getting ready to move and starting to pack, your dog or cat can start feeling anxious and confused. Try to help your pet feel secure during the packing stage by keeping them entertained with something fun and positive to do. Dogs can enjoy a chew such as a rawhide, Whimzee or a Kong filled with something delicious. For cats, hiding some tasty treats around a given room to encourage hunting can be fun. Alternatively, try offering some catnip to help them relax.
If you're moving a long way away, it is a good idea to take your dog or cat to the vet a few weeks before the move to make sure your pet is fit to travel. It can be a good idea to have your pet's nails clipped - to prevent damage being caused if they scratch on the crate in transit. If your pet becomes stressed when travelling, your vet may be able to offer additional care.
Don’t forget to change any contact details on your pet's microchip and make sure they have the correct information on their pet tag on their collar.
Try to stick to your pet's usual routine, as much as possible, and give plenty of exercise. Make sure you are well stocked with your pet’s usual food. Try to avoid changing your pet's diet before, during, or straight after the move.
When the moving day finally comes around, it can be helpful to have a family member or a friend available to look after your dog for the day. Alternatively, you can place your pet into a kennel or cattery while you move.
If pets are at home on moving day, try to keep them safe and secure by placing them in a designated room that is packed away last. This will prevent them from getting under people's feet or escaping through the front door. A baby gate can be a useful safety guard if you have dogs.
If you are moving abroad, you will be required to apply for a pet passport. You can do this through your veterinary practice. If you're travelling by plane or boat, your transport provider will supply further information on how to transport your pet.
To ensure your dog's safety when travelling, introduce a dog den in the car; ideally a dog crate or a fold flat dog den. Cats should be transported in a cat carrier or a small crate. Your pet's transport carrier should be big enough for them to lie down, stand up and turn around in.
ntroduce your pet to the crate or carrier a few weeks before travelling by giving a short training session where your pet is rewarded with treats, toys and praise. This will help your pet to develop a positive association with the crate or carrier. Start training sessions with the crate or carrier in the house. Once your pet is happily spending time inside the crate, introduce them to it in the car with the same training principles. Never force or lock your pet inside, and only travel once they are happy to be in the crate or carrier.
If a dog crate is inappropriate, a dog harness designed for a car can be used as an alternative.
If your pet suffers with travel sickness, stop feeding them for 12 hours before travelling. Ensure there is plenty of ventilation in the car by opening the back windows, especially on a warm day. Try to plan your journey so that there are plenty of stops for your dog to stretch their legs or go to the toilet.
Settling in to their new home
Have a secure room to place your pet into once you arrive at your new home. This room should have your pet’s belongings in it such as their bed, toys, water and food dishes. This will help them to feel more settled in the room. Asking a family member to sit with your pet will also help your pet to feel more settled.
Don't allow your dog or cat to roam free until you have 'pet proofed' the new house and garden from any potential hazards or escape routes. Allow your pet time to explore their new surroundings. Never force them to come out of their secure room – give them plenty of time to do this of their own accord. Make sure all external windows and doors are closed.
To avoid toilet mishaps in the home, ensure you give your dog the opportunity to go to the toilet before entering the house for the first time. Make sure you have cat litter trays set up in the house before you allow your cat to explore the house.
Be sure you have at least two litters trays available in the house for one cat. If you have more than one cat, there should also be an extra litter tray for every other cat in the household. This also goes for feeding stations and water stations. Remember, cats also prefer their feeding and water stations to be kept separate, unlike dogs.
Arriving at the new home can be just as stressful as leaving the old one, so similar distractions will help to calm your pet’s anxieties. Giving your dog an extra-special treat such as a rawhide chew or a new toy to play with will help them to settle in. For cats, introduce some toys to play with or try offering some catnip. Hiding pieces of food around the new house will encourage them to go hunting and exploring. This is a really good way to help your pets feel comfortable in their new home, as well as helping them de-stress.
While your pet is settling in, try not to leave them for long periods of time. Place your pet's bed in a similar place to your previous home and avoid washing the bedding for the first few weeks. The scent from your previous home will make your pet feel more settled.
Don't allow your cat to have access to the outdoors straight away; you need to allow your cat time to adapt to the new surroundings. Outdoor access should be introduced 2 weeks after you have moved into your new house. It is important to remember that every cat is different, and some cats may be ready to venture outdoors sooner than others. Make sure it is when your cat is ready to do so, rather than when you think they should be ready to go outdoors!
When your cat does go out for the first few times, make sure it is a time when you are at home to make sure they are okay. Allow your cat to step out of their own accord, don't force them. Going out into the garden with them can help them to feel safe whilst they start to explore their new surroundings. Keep the back door open, so your cat can come back into the house if needed.
If you're planning to move to a new house, the points raised in this article should help you achieve a happier (and more settled) transition for your pets. If you would like more information about this subject or any of the foods and services that OSCAR Pet Foods provide, please contact us on 0800 195 8000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.