A Guide to Moving House with Pets

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A Guide to Moving House with Pets
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Moving to a new home can be an adventure, opening up new possibilities and opportunities. However, it also brings significant life changes that can be unsettling and stressful, especially for our beloved furry friends. As their trusted companion, it is vital to help make this important transition as smooth, calm and comfortable as possible for your cats, dogs, small animals or fish.

In this blog, we look at critical practical steps you can take before the move, on moving day itself, and after entering your new home to keep your pets happy, healthy, safe and secure. Planning thoroughly and patiently, helping them adjust to new sights, smells, sounds, and surroundings, is instrumental in easing anxiety and settling them into their new home.

Make arrangements for moving day

Planning is fundamental for an organised, stress-free move with pets. First, decide where your animals will stay on moving day itself – whether in a comfortable pet-friendly room at home with a close friend popping in to care for them, at a trusted family member’s house nearby, or a fully licensed kennels/cattery facility if needing overnight stays.

For the latter, booking pet-friendly venues well in advance is essential to guarantee a space and ensure you complete all veterinary/vaccination stay requirements early.

You’ll also want to gather all your pet’s essentials, water/food bowls, bed, blankets, toys, grooming kit, medication, etc. – together in one dedicated bag/box to take with you on move-in day, separate from general household items. Pack at least 2-3 days’ worth of food, treats and litter. Having these familiar items close by will provide comfort.

For cats, dogs, and small mammals, including rabbits, guinea pigs or hamsters, a secure travel carrier must be a cat box, dog crate, or small animal transport cage. Ensure it is well-ventilated and lined with absorbent puppy pads, a worn blanket and favourite toys. Affix a ‘Live Animal’ sticker to the carrier so movers are aware. Consider including ice packs or cooling pads to prevent overheating on longer journeys, and be sure to provide water.

Inform your moving company that you have pets 

Well before the packing preparations begin, let your professional removal team know you have pets and go through any special transport requirements for them and their belongings. For example, you’ll likely need the movers to carefully relocate crates, carriers, fish tanks and vital accessories containing small animals, fish, reptiles or birds.

Additionally, warn if you intend to keep pets in secure rooms during loading. Also, raise any needs relating to uniquely large tanks or cages. Clear communication from the outset allows the team to plan appropriately with the correct van sizes, access and lifting gear while preventing delays or problems.

Create a comfortable space for your pet in your new home 

In the hustle and bustle of unloading boxes and unpacking on moving day itself, make settling your pet into a safe, peaceful room in the new house an immediate priority after arriving. Set up in a quiet, closed-off room, placing familiar and reassuring items inside – any favourite toys, their bed and blanket, a scratching post, litter trays or puppy pads, food, and water bowls.

With this safe base ready, bring your pet in their carrier indoors once the removal team departs and allow them to initially adjust in this one room, away from the packing chaos elsewhere. Ensure all windows and doors are shut securely until fully settled; any cat flaps are locked if they lead outside. These measures help reduce feeling overwhelmed and provide safety and homeliness.

Check for dangers in your new area 

Check for any potential hazards outside posed by busy nearby roads, swollen streams or rivers, poisonous plants, dangerous fauna or flimsy fencing through which your pet could escape. Remaining vigilant during those first few weeks outdoors is vital for preventing accidents and upsets.

If there are neighbouring pets, have your removal team or estate agent provide details so you can considerately make contact in advance. Explain recent movements and discuss needs – i.e., gently requesting they keep larger or highly excitable dogs indoors or on a lead when your bold feline first steps out to explore independently. Building positive relationships and open communication with fellow pet owners nearby helps all animals stay safe.

Help your pet become familiar with the new location 

The initial few days and weeks of settling into new surroundings are pivotal for nervous or reticent pets struggling to adapt. There are, however, plenty of ways to help them gradually adjust. The key is letting them become slowly and wholly accustomed to the new sights, smells and sounds on their terms.

Keeping apprehensive pets strictly indoors initially allows them to explore on your terms. Short, frequent supervised garden visits on a lead or harness after that enable them to sniff out the area without being overwhelmed. Early positive associations are also invaluable – speak gently, deliver praise, and offer treats when interacting. In time, the unfamiliar eventually morphs into the familiar as positive memories cement the new house as a welcoming haven rather than a scary place. But be patient; even confident animals often take weeks or months to call a new place home.

Consider keeping them indoors for a while 

When moving into a new area, it’s wise to resist urges to immediately give newly arrived outdoor cats completely free range straight after crossing the threshold. Allowing naïve and innocent animals to roam unfamiliar neighbouring gardens from day one freely comes with genuine risks before they gain their bearings.

Instead, an initial post-move indoor orientation period is strongly advised. Start by keeping your cat strictly in one safe, airy room after arriving, ideally with a window providing exciting views of the outdoors for mental stimulation. Then, progressively expand their access to other areas over 2-4 weeks while continually supervised, allowing adjustments in stages rather than suddenly thrusting them into an overwhelming world all at once.

Only after a cat appears comfortable and confident navigating their new indoor terrain – reliably using facilities like food bowls and litter trays – should you consider introducing them to the great outdoors.

Find pet services in the new area

Moving home is an ideal opportunity to thoroughly research and compile a list of trusted pet services conveniently located within the local community that any responsible pet parent should have to handle.

First and foremost, investigate and shortlist nearby veterinary practices with expertise in providing critical emergency care and routine annual check-ups, vaccinations and treatment should your furry friend face illness or injury at any unexpected moment.

Suppose your work schedule or lifestyle entails periods away from the house. In that case, another critical task is proactively identifying reliable local pet sitters, dog walkers, and cat/dog boarding kennels to look after your companion occasionally.

Inform the new owners of your old home in case your pet tries to return

Despite even the most carefully executed moving plans, some pets may try to return to their old home in confusion and disorientation. After moving out, provide your previous property’s new owners or tenants with your updated contact details – including address and phone numbers – along with a clear photo and description of your pet.

Explain that while unlikely, there’s a chance your shy cat or anxious dog may try to revisit their old home if distressed by the unfamiliar situation post-move. Ask them to immediately call you if your pet ever shows up on their doorstep unannounced.

With the proper preparation, patience, and the above tried-and-tested tips, you and your pet will feel happily settled together in your new home in no time.

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