Moving to a new home can be an exciting, yet scary experience for our pets. At Petbarn and Greencross Vets, we’re here to make caring for your pet as easy and convenient as possible so you can spend more time settling in with them.
Why is moving house stressful for dogs and cats?
Cats and dogs can find moving house to be a stressful experience because they become familiar with their everyday environment and look upon it as their ‘territory’. They know the surrounds, the other pets nearby, and neighbouring yards and streets due to their daily exercise (for dogs) and observation (for cats).
When moved, dogs and cats feel as though they are separated from their ‘pack’ or ‘territory’ and can become anxious. They need to reorient themselves and become familiar with their new surrounds.
How do I know if my dog or cat is stressed?
The problems that can occur are behavioural but may show as physical signs of stress. For dogs signs of anxiety may result in escaping, panicked behaviour, excessive barking, hiding or destructive behaviours. Cats may show more subtle signs of anxiety including excessive grooming or fur pulling.
How can I make moving house easier for my dog or cat?
Before you move
To prepare your pet for moving, start prior to moving day. If possible take your dog to visit the new property prior to moving. Giving a treat or feeding a meal at the new house may help to ease some anxiety and familiarise your dog with their new yard. Ensure the fence is secure and that your dog has somewhere to shelter when left alone.
If you pet already suffers from anxiety speak to your local Greencross Vets team about pheromone therapy prior to moving (Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats) or even anti-anxiety medication if required.
Remember to update your pet’s ID tags and microchip details before you move.
On moving day
On moving day it is best that pets are minded elsewhere to reduce their anxiety and ensure that they are not in the way of the movers. There is also risk that they could escape through open doors whilst furniture is being moved.
After you move
To help your pet settle in keep as much as possible to your usual routine of meal and walk times. Spend as much time as possible with your pet to reassure them that you are not going to leave them in this new unfamiliar space. Try not to leave your dog alone in the new house for a couple of days. After that try to do only small trips to start with – allow about a week for them to adjust. If you feel your dog is likely to have adjustment problems anti-anxiety medications, pheromones and natural herbal therapies are likely to help and are very safe.
Cats should be confined to the house for at least 3 weeks to allow them to get used to the new environment. Arrange the furniture so that they can look out and observe their surroundings day and night. After the period of confinement, if they are to go outside, allow them to go out for short periods of time. A good tip is not feed them prior to letting them out so they will more readily come in for their food.
Believe it or not if your cat is an outside cat, a house move is a great time to consider making them an indoor cat permanently. They seem to adjust more easily to the change in a new environment. Remember that compared to cats who are allowed to roam outside, indoor cats are safer from dangers such as ticks, snakebites, communicable diseases such as FIV, road accidents and dog attacks.
To get to know your neighbours and to foster goodwill it is a good idea to ask them to let you know if your dog is creating any disturbance while you are out. That way you can avoid any neighbourhood disputes and all be happy in your new home.
Written by: Dr. Helen Harvey BVSc (Hons), Greencross Vets