Moving home can be one of life’s most stress-inducing events – and moving house with pets can be even more challenging. Pets don’t understand what’s going on, and dealing with your beloved pets’ own stress can bring its own pressures. Here, we look at the ins and outs of moving home with various types of pet and give some practical tips on how to keep things as stress-free as possible.
Before the move
As you prepare for your move and start shifting furniture out of your current home, it can be a good idea to keep your cat in one room, removed from the stress and disruption. Make sure it has access to their bed, food, water, toys and a litter tray.
Anyone who has a dog knows that their feelings and moods are very much tied to that of their owners. When preparing for moving house with a dog, it helps to keep calm and try not to display any undue anxiety or stress about the forthcoming move. You may opt to ask a familiar friend or family member to look after your dog for a day or two while you deal with the disruption of the move itself.
Even more so than larger pets, rabbits are extremely sensitive to changes of environment. While you are preparing for your move, ensure that your pet has a rabbit “safe zone” with its cage or hutch, toys and litter box. Try your best to maintain the status quo of the safe zone for as long as possible.
In the days leading up to your move, gradually remove ornaments from your fish tank and change the water by around 20% daily. This will help ensure that the water in your tank is clean and stable by the day of your move.
On moving day
When it comes to moving house with a cat, transport your pet in a comfortable, secure cat carrier with familiar blankets or toys. Animals that aren’t used to travelling can become travel sick, so it’s a good idea to avoid feeding them for around two hours prior to the journey. It’s also a good idea to line the box with a waterproof sheet, in case of emergencies.
If you choose to have your dog move with you rather than leaving it with a friend or family member during the move, it can help to have it in a dog cage in the vehicle rather than leaving it free in the car to become too excitable. Make sure it is fed before you set out, and if your move to your new home involves a long journey, then make sure you make allowances for stops to exercise and drink water.
Make sure you invest in a sensible rabbit carry case, and for the journey ensure that you have plenty of food and water for your pet. One consideration for rabbits that is more important than for any other type of pet is the temperature in your car. Rabbits can get very ill if their temperature gets too high, so ensure your car doesn’t get any hotter than about 23°C.
The best approach to moving fish is to put them in a thick plastic bag – you can buy bags for this purpose from a pet shop or online – with enough water and air for the journey. It’s a good idea to part-fill the bag with water from the tank. Put the bag in a dark, padded box for the move.
After the move
Once you arrive at your new home, unpack a single room for your cat to stay in while you unload and furnish the rest of your belongings. Once again, ensure it has everything it needs to feel secure and comfortable; it can also be helpful to use a synthetic pheromone spray or diffuser to help keep it calm and relaxed. Remember to spend time with it when you can throughout the day. Once things have settled, let your cat explore the new surroundings at its own pace, one room at a time.
Once you’ve arrived at your new home, keep your dog in its travelling cage until you have unpacked one room, into which you should put their bed or basket and favourite toys. Keep your dog in the room while you deal with unpacking and furnishing the rest of the house. Once you’re settled in, let your dog explore your new home and garden.
When you arrive at your new home, select a room for your rabbit to stay in while you unpack and get settled in. It can also help to let them have a blanket, toy or other objects that carry the scent of your old home. As with other types of pet, let your rabbit explore your new home gradually and in its own time, bringing it back to its safe room after each exploration session.
Put your fish tank back together as soon as you are able, giving it at least half an hour for the water to settle once the pumps and filters have been activated. Float your fish’s travel bag in the tank to allow the temperatures to stabilise before releasing the fish from the bag into the tank.
Foreign Travel Considerations
If you are moving to another country, there are of course a whole host of other considerations when it comes to moving with a pet. It’s a common belief that pets will need to undergo extended quarantine when moving to another country, but that needn’t always be the case.
Cats and dogs moving from or to the UK should have a pet passport or official veterinary certificate – this is a formal record of your pet’s medical treatments. They will also need to be microchipped if they aren’t already and will have to have a rabies vaccine – these are both qualifying conditions for a pet passport.
Pet passports should hold you in good stead for moving animals to another country within the EU, although individual countries may require other documentation – for example, a record of tapeworm treatment. Non-EU countries will have their own unique requirements for entry. It’s also a good idea to take out pet travel insurance if moving internationally.
For more advice on moving pets, or to see how TFM can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.