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How to make moving house a paw-sitive transition for your pets?

Moving into a new home is an exciting yet challenging experience for anyone, but when you have four-legged family members to consider, the process can become even more complex.

Moving into a new home is an exciting yet challenging experience for anyone, but when you have four-legged family members to consider, the process can become even more complex. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or another companion, our fur babies can feel the stress of a move just as much as we do.

However, with both careful planning and consideration, you can make the transition smoother for both yourself and your furry friends. Here are some things Behaviour Veterinarian Dr Elsa Flint says are important to consider when you’re relocating.


Dr Flint says the days leading up to the move are an important time to keep your pet’s feeding and walking routines as normal as possible, especially while you pack up your existing home.

“The noise and movement from families packing can be very unsettling for your pet, so making sure there is a quiet room for them to seek refuge from the noise is really helpful. Make sure they have lots of food and water handy.”

Now is also a great time to consider sorting all of the admin that comes with your pet, so you’re not forced to play catch-up on moving day. These include things like arranging and familiarising your pet with a travel carrier, installing a cat or dog door at your new home, updating your pets ID tag and microchip and ensuring you’re adhering to local council rules.

“These include things like learning where you’re allowed to walk your dog, where the off-lead areas are and what parks you can visit” says Dr Flint.

Cats and dogs are territorial animals and smells can help them feel at home. If possible, avoid washing your pet’s bedding so they have familiar smells to travel with, and if you can, try to take your fur babies for a recce at your new place before moving day.

“Just be around for them, and make it really positive. Get them used to the area where they’ll be sleeping, and for dogs where they’ll usually be stationed.”

But if it all gets too much, asking someone you trust to look after your pet, or booking them into a kennel or cattery while you pack is a safe solution for your best friend.


Moving furniture and boxes can be incredibly unsettling for your dog or cat. The risk of them leaving the house is high, so it’s a good idea to settle them in an empty, secure room until you’ve finished shifting. Dr Flint says it’s important to check on them frequently, and give them lots of reassurance.

‘It’s vital to ensure that everyone knows where your pet is so they don’t get out. Set them up with loads of food, water and toys.”

It’s also a good idea to avoid packing away your pet’s bedding and toys until the last minute, and make sure you’re able to set them up quickly in the new house so your furry friend has some familiarity in the new space.

When it comes to transporting your pet, it’s important to use a cat or dog carrier, and make sure that if your pets don’t travel well, not to give them food in the hours leading up to the move to reduce the risk of travel sickness.

“If you have a dog that’s prone to getting ill, you can always access anti-nausea medication from your vet. When they’re on the move, make sure you give them regular water and toileting breaks too.”

“For a cat, toilet breaks aren’t as easy, so think about packing your travel carrier with absorbent bedding.”

Dr Flint says it also pays to keep an eye on the temperature, especially if it’s a hot day, and if you’re travelling by plane, make sure you consider the airline’s specific requirements for transporting animals.

“Travelling by plane can be really terrifying for your pet. It’s great to have good bedding, and use calming sprays. Unfortunately they don’t allow animals to be medicated on most airlines, so using natural alternatives is the best option.”


So you’re all moved in, the boxes are unpacked and your furniture is arranged, but often it’s not as quick and easy for your pets to settle in. Just like on moving day, it pays to set up your furry friend in a safe and secure room with their bed, food, water and litter box.

“Start by opening their travel carrier and let them come out on their own, sit with them and give them positive reassurance with treats.”

Dr Flint says as your pet’s confidence grows, you can introduce them to new areas of the house.

“Once everything is moved into the rest of the house, and there’s no more unpacking then start gradually releasing them into those finished rooms. Especially for cats, they may need three days in that initial room before they start to explore others.”

It’s not unusual for there to be a few toileting accidents while your pet adjusts to their new space, so it’s important to keep their routine as normal as possible.

If your cat or dog is finding the move extra stressful, there’s a range of natural products that can be used to help reduce anxiety.

“Using natural remedies like Feliway for cats, and Adaptil for dogs can really help. Adaptil collars will give your dog about a month's worth of relief, and will likely get them through that entire period of change.”

But if that isn’t having much of an impact, you can always talk to your vet about being prescribed some anti-anxiety medication.

Dr Flint says getting to know your neighbours can also be really helpful for monitoring your pets while you’re not at home.

“It’s not always easy to do, but it is a good idea on all counts to introduce yourself. If they know you have a cat and what kind of cat it is, there’s no chance of it getting mistakenly taken away.”

“Neighbours can also tell you if your dog sounds distressed, or has been barking while you’ve been out.”

If you’ve moved to an entirely new region, and you haven’t already - it’s important to register your dog with the local council, and find yourself a new vet too.

“You can start by looking online, visiting the local clinics or asking locals for recommendations.”


Once your pet adjusts to the indoors, it’s safe to start allowing them to explore your backyard, but there’s a few things to consider before you do.

Firstly it’s a good idea to check your garden for chemicals and dangerous plants.

“Cats and dogs don’t tend to chew on plants, but there are several noxious ones to look out for. You should also be making sure the previous home owners haven’t put out any slug bait or poisons”.

Dogs tend to adapt quicker than cats, but both will be overwhelmed by new and different smells.

Dr Flint says starting your dog with a leashed walk around your house and garden also means you can do a thorough check for broken fencing, and ensure all gates and entryways are secure.

If moving to a rural property with dogs that haven’t been around livestock it’s important to consider they might be triggered to chase them.

“Make an effort to walk the dogs on a lead past stock and behind fences, keeping them distracted with treats.”

Dr Flint says if you find your dog is still fixated on livestock, it’s a good idea to build a secure compound for them to run off their lead.

When it comes to your cat, it’s good to give them ample time to adjust before letting them outside.

“Generally you should keep them inside for two weeks, and let them out gradually with supervision. Some cats will want to return to their old house, so it’s important to keep them occupied while they think about hunting in the evening and at night.”

“With a cat it’s also good to know who lives next door, in case there’s a neighbouring dog that isn’t friendly.”

Moving house with pets requires careful planning and patience. But by prioritising their well-being, preparing in advance, and maintaining routines, you can make the transition smoother for your beloved companions who will soon feel right at home in their new environment.

For more information or advice from Dr Elsa Flint, visit

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