Helping your pets move home safely

6 minute read.

Moving house with pets can be extremely stressful – for both you and them. Cats and dogs become very attached to their own territory and will need care and attention when you move home.  

Before the move
Ensure your pet is wearing an identity collar tag with your name and contact number engraved on it. This will increase the chance of your pet being returned to you should they escape or get lost during or after the house move.  

Animals can become disturbed by strange people coming in and out of the house to carry out the removals and doors will inevitably be left open. If you can make arrangements for your pet to stay with a friend, neighbour or relative, or even in kennels/cattery on move day – and maybe even a few days afterwards. This means you can focus on moving without worrying about potential escapees!

Remember to update their microchips, register them with a new veterinary practice and update your pet insurance policy before you move.

On the day of the move
Move day can be distressing for your pets; their usual routine is disturbed and they’re surrounded by commotion. If your pet has to stay with you on the day you move house, there are a few things you can do to make the day less stressful – for you and your pet.

Make sure cats are inside your house before the removals start. If they’re outside, you may not be able to get them in by the time you have to leave your old home. Consider using a calming pheromone spray for your cat.
Try to set aside a quiet room to leave your pets in where they will not be disturbed and are safe to minimise their stress putting instructions on the door that it is not to be opened.  Remember for tropical pets that need uv lights, leave their transportation until the last minute and ensure you have somewhere quiet in your new home to immediately install their equipment.  Remember to carefully wrap glass tanks in bubble wrap and blankets, informing your removals company.  As you will want to set the tank up immediately it may be easier, if possible, to take the tank in your own vehicle.

After the move
There are a number of simple things you can do to help your pets feel at home in your new house as quickly as you do. Pets need time to adjust to their new home once you’ve moved in. There are some things you can do to help them get used to strange surroundings.
•    Show them their new bed and which rooms they’re allowed in.
•    Keep cats inside the new house for at least 24 hours and feed them before you let them out for the first time.
•    Make sure the garden is secure – check fences carefully for any gaps.
•    Get back into your old routine straight away.

Preventing pets from returning to their old home
If your new home is not far from the old one, your pet may encounter old routes while exploring the area, and return “home” to the previous house along these routes. There is less likelihood of this happening with a dog than a cat, but it can happen. It may be that the bond with the new home is simply not yet well enough established to break habits. Warn the new residents that this may happen if you are not moving far and ask them to call you so that you can go and collect the animal but, if the behaviour persists there are some things you can try.
• Feed small frequent meals and lots of attention to build up the bond between you. Establish routines and signals concerning food and feeding time which your pet cannot resist. 
• When exercising your dog, make an extra special effort to maximise the time spent playing.
• Pet your dog at home and whilst out exercising

What you are trying to achieve is to get your pet to associate pleasurable experiences with new surroundings. This way your pet is far less likely to roam. If your pet does go missing, notify the new owners of your old home immediately and inform the local authority, police station, veterinary practices and any rescue or welfare facilities.
Assuming your pet has proper identification (collar, tag and a microchip), there is every chance of being reunited sooner rather than later.