Moving to a New Home with your Pet
The chaos of relocation can be very traumatic for cats and dogs – the whole process of packing, moving boxes, and suddenly arriving somewhere new can leave them confused and anxious. Some forward planning, however, can greatly reduce their stress levels, as well as yours!
Before The Move
- If possible, take your dog to your new home a few times before you move in – bring some of his toys and treats too, and allow him time to play and acclimate to the new place.
- If your new home needs to be made pet-proof, make the changes before moving. It’s also a good idea to investigate the local area in advance for a new veterinarian. Order new pet identity tags at this time too.
- If your pet needs to be transported in a crate, order it a few weeks before moving. This way you can introduce him to it so that it isn’t new on the day of the move. Leave it in the living room and allow him to wander in – place his favorite blankets, toys, and treats inside to entice him in. This will prevent it being yet another stress for him on moving day.
- By far the best thing for your pet on the day of the move is for him to be away from the chaos. A day or two at a local cattery or kennel, or even with friends, is a less stressful, and safer, alternative for them than being in the middle of the moving. If this is not possible, avoid a sudden escape by securing him in an empty room with some food, water and his favorite toys.
- Pack essential pet items into a separate box that can be easily accessed when you arrive at your new home.
- Avoid feeding him a few hours before travel, and don’t feed during the journey (except for long distance road trips where you can stop for a break). Make water available, though – even if it means stopping occasionally for a drink.
After The Move
- If possible, leave him at his temporary boarding location until the relocation is over. If not, then secure him in a room with his supplies once again, to prevent escape.
- If he seems overwhelmed when he arrives, confine him to a small area of the house initially, and gradually extend his access. Also keep his routine unchanged with regards to things such as feeding time and exercise regime.
- Cats should be kept indoors for a week to allow acclimation to their new surroundings before accessing the outside world. When first releasing a cat outside, try doing it before feeding time when you know he is hungry and will come home again!
- Walk your dog regularly on a lead until he gets to know his new neighborhood – this way if he escapes, he will know the way home.
Although following these tips won’t make the change from old to new become an overnight miracle, your pet’s transition will be smoother, and he will soon forgive you for relocating him!Written by Dr. Parry ©August 17, 2011
Dr. Parry is a veterinarian working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.