How to make moving house less stressful for pets.

Yellow Labrador lying on the sofa in front of the fire

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Practical considerations

Moving house can be stressful for pets. Pets (particularly cats) can become anxious and distressed when their home is disturbed. Their safe den appears to have been ransacked when furniture is moved and packing cases appear. It may be better to book your dog or cat into a kennels or cattery until you are settled in your new home. This is especially helpful if they are very nervous. Make sure all your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and ensure the kennels/cattery have both your old and new contact details.

Update your details with your pet insurance and microchip companies. If you are moving out of the local area be sure to register with a new veterinary practice in case of an emergency.

Before moving house with dogs

Prior to moving house, empty a room. Then put your dog’s bed, travel crate, toys, food, and water bowl into it. Spend some time with your dog in this room to make sure he is calm and relaxed. Consider using a dog/baby gate (as long as your dog doesn’t try to jump over it!) so he can see you. This is especially useful if your dog becomes anxious when he is on his own.

Dog resting on the floor

Keep your dog room secure so that when the removal men arrive your dog does not escape. Nominate a family member to be responsible for checking that your dog is safe. Consider making a sign for the door of your dog’s room to ensure that no-one mistakenly opens the door.

Take your dog out for a walk while the contents of the dog room are packed. Finally, make sure your dog is safe and secure during the journey to your new home.

Before moving house with cats

Follow a similar procedure for your cat. Empty a room and put your cat’s bed, travel carrier, toys, food, water bowl and litter tray into it. Although you will be packing up your belongings, try to keep to as normal a routine as possible. Allow your cat to become familiar with the room. A pheromone diffuser may be beneficial. Make sure that the room is completely secure. Especially when the removal men are loading the van. Use muslin cloths to take face rubs from your cat. Then seal these in a plastic bag for use in your new house.

Settle your cat into the cat carrier. Then place the carrier and all of your cat’s belongings into the car for the journey.

Arrival at your new house with dogs

If there has been a resident dog in your new home, try minimising the smells with an odour suppressant. Good pet shops will have something suitable. This will minimise any marking behaviour enabling your pet to settle into their new surroundings more confidently.

Check the garden for any potential hazards and poisonous plants.

Dog Settling in at home

On arrival, unpack your dog’s belongings in a designated room. Place your dog safely in there with the same regime as leaving your old house. Introduce your dog to his new home only after transfering all of your furniture and belongings. Remember to supervise him while he explores. Use a long line if necessary.

Make sure the garden is secure for your dog. For the first couple of days lead him around until you are totally sure that he is safe. Introduce your dog to the local environment, the park, and other resident dogs.

Arrival at your new house with cats

On arrival, your cat should remain in the cat carrier until a designated room is ready. Put your cat’s bed, travel crate, toys, food, water bowl into it. Provide multiple litter trays and feed your cat little and often. Take your cat face ‘rubs’ and wipe them around the room, especially on low surfaces. Again, your cat may also benefit from a commercial pheromone product. Close all the doors and windows before letting your cat explore the rest of the house. If your cat runs and hides under the bed for example, do not try to drag him out. Make sure your cat has access to high surfaces (top of the wardrobe!). This will allow him to survey his new surroundings without feeling threatened.

Cat and Dog in their new home

After moving house, keep your cat inside for a couple of weeks.When the time comes to allow your cat outdoors, spread some soiled cat litter around the perimeter of the garden. Making other cats aware of a new cat in the area by marking your cat’s territory will comfort your cat. Do not feed your cat before opening the door for the first time. Walk out into the garden with your cat and then call your cat back in and feed. Do this once a day until your cat is confident in his surroundings and knows where he lives. Placing something familiar in the garden such as an old pair of gardening gloves or wellies can help.

What if my pet will not settle after moving house?

After moving house, it may take some time before your pet feels totally relaxed and settled in your new home. If you think that your pet needs help, contact your vet. They can provide some short-term anti-anxiety medication to help your pet feel less stressed.

Make sure the new owners and your old neighbours have your new contact details – just in case your pet decides to head back there!

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Breakthrough Dog Food supports behaviour and welfare needs with specific formulation. Contact Breakthrough Helpline on 0808 168 33 44 or email and we’ll do our best to assist.


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