Moving house with a pet is no walk in the park, but with a little pre-planning, you can help yourself to make it as pain-free as possible.
PETstock veterinarian Dr. Hay Chung says dogs and cats can have different reactions to a change in scenery, but there are a few things we can do before, during and after the move to keep them safe and happy through the transition.
Before the move
You can never be too prepared for moving day. You’ll need to create a checklist and start ticking it off weeks in advance.
Plan ahead, and your move can be risk-free for your pet. Picture: Kate Hunter
When it comes to your pet, things to consider could include:
- Visiting the vet for a check-up and to ensure all their vaccinations are up-to-date. If you’re moving to a new area (with a new vet), be sure to collect all medical records and prescriptions from your current vet to pass on.
- Updating your pet’s microchip with your new address and vet details.
- Checking to see if there are any possible dangers — ticks, snakes, aggressive neighbourhood animals or busy roads around your new home.
- Reviewing your pet insurance and if you don’t have it, consider taking it out. RACV have just launched RACV Pet Insurance, offering illness and injury cover with up to $12,000 per year if your pet suffers an illness or injury during the period of insurance and up to 80% of approved vet costs back, up to $12,000 per year. The chance of an accident happening can increase significantly during a move — with doors open, dangerous goods at nose-height and unfamiliar territory — so having insurance will give you peace of mind.
- Planning where your pet’s bed or climber will go prior to moving in so you can make it homely straight away.
- Investing in a good pet carrier for the move. Plus, you can leave out your animal’s favourite blanket and toys to make it familiar.
Keeping your pet safe when you’re moving house should be top of the list. Picture: RACV
On the big day
The moment you start packing your things into boxes is the moment your pet will stop feeling secure. When this happens, it’s common for dogs and particularly cats to act out.
“Moving house is more problematic for cats than dogs, because they do get more attached to their environments,” Dr. Hay says. “Use interactive feeders such as Catnip or Feliway for environmental enrichment to keep them distracted while you’re packing,” she suggests.
A dog’s bed is their castle, so leave it until last to pack away. Picture: Getty
To prevent anxiety, keep the cat or dog’s bed or playpen out until the final moment. This will ensure your pet’s belongings or area will be the last to go in and, consequently, the first to come out the other end. For dogs, keeping them in an enclosed outdoor area could prevent them getting in the way or picking up hazardous objects left of the ground.
For transportation – if not walking – car safety is paramount. “Keep the windows down, stop for breaks if travelling long distances and in summer, make sure your pet has access to water,” Dr. Hay says. “Cats are not going to be as forgiving as dogs, so more frequent breaks may be necessary.”
If you can, you may want to consider putting your pet into a boarding facility or having them stay with a pet-sitter or a friend they’re familiar with. This could save them the trauma of moving and save you from the added chaos of a doting dog or chaotic cat.
That being said, you know your pet better than anyone so assess whether separating them from the move (and you) will do them more harm than good.
Once you’ve unpacked — and have their corner all set up — you can give them all the love and attention they need.
When it comes to settling animals into the new digs, familiarity is key. Try to recreate their space as close to its original design in the previous home and maintain your usual routines.
For cats, it’s best to keep them indoors for the first one or two weeks to allow them to get used to their new environment.
Cats can be wary of new environments, so keep them inside at first to help them feel at home. Picture: iStock
Next, be sure to pet-proof your home. Once safe, show your furry friend where their things are: food and water bowls, litter tray or potty grass and so on.
And lastly, and most importantly, show them extra love and affection. Remember, change is daunting for them too.