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Moving House With Pets

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

30th Jul 2018 (Last updated on 7th Feb 2024) 13 minute read

Moving house with a dog, cat or even rabbit can prove to be difficult if you fail to prepare them for the experience. A pet's life is often based around routine and so this process can be very stressful for them, no matter what the species. By organising simple strategies in advance, you can prepare your pet for the house move and ensure you both settle into the new property as soon as possible.

As moving day approaches, you'll want to start preparing your pet for the disruption. Animals sense the emotions of those around them, meaning if you’re anxious, they will be too. To help with the preparation, we've created the ultimate timeline for moving house with your dog and cat, including what to do throughout the week before your moving date. We've also included useful tips on how to move house with other animals such as your rabbit, fish and reptile.

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  1. Moving House With a Dog
  2. Moving House With a Cat
  3. Moving House With a Rabbit
  4. Moving House With a Fish
  5. Moving House With a Reptile
  6. Tips for Moving House With Pets
  7. Move Your Pets With Compare My Move

Moving House With a Dog

There are a number of ways to prepare for moving house with a dog. At Compare My Move, we understand that it can be overwhelming trying to know where to begin and so we’ve put together a timeline of events that you should follow in the build-up to your house move. This should then create a more positive experience for both you and your dog.

Moving House with a Dog

One Week Before The Move – Use Pheromones

During the build-up to your move, there’ll be a lot going on around the house. To avoid causing distress to your dog, try a dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) plug-in diffuser or a collar. This will help to make your dog feel safe and secure amongst all the chaos of moving.

As previously mentioned, many dogs and other types of pets live their life through a routine. If this is disrupted by the move (For example their mealtimes may have to change due to packing), then the pheromones should provide some sort of calmness to reduce the stress. Pheromones are the chemical signals that many animals use to send messages and ultimately speak to each other. The diffuser will typically be made up of female pheromones that are used to make puppies will safe and secure.

A Few Days Before – Set up a Dog Safe Room

A few days before the move, create a spare room filled with food, water and toys to prepare your dog for moving day - this will then act as a 'safe room' for your pet. Your dog should stay put in this room during the packing and loading of boxes on the day to avoid confusion and distress. This will allow your dog to be more relaxed as they'll then be aware of the change without it being sprung onto them.

Alternatively, you could ask a friend or family member to look after your dog when moving house. A few days before the removal, you can then re-introduce the person to your dog so that they're completely familiar with them. Only ask someone you trust, someone who has a good relationship with your pet already.

The Day Before – Warn New Occupants

Once you’ve arrived in your new house, it might take a while for your dog to adjust to the new location and they may even try to return to your old house. You should notify your neighbours and the new occupants of your house to keep an eye out if your dog returns. If your dog does end up going back to your old house, ask the residents to avoid stroking or feeding your dog, as not to encourage them to go back or stay there.

It would also be wise to register your dog with the local vet before moving in. Not only will this be helpful should there be any accidents, but it also means you'll have the opportunity to update the details on your dog's microchip. You could even try purchasing a new collar or tag during the run-up to the move. If your beloved pet somehow escapes during the chaos, at least you'll know they'll be sent to the correct home when found.

The Day of the House Move – Keep Your Dog With You

During the journey, it’s important that your dog stays with you and not in the removal van or in an enclosed space. This will help to calm your dog throughout the move and provide a source of comfort and familiarity. Alternatively, it might be a good idea to ask someone to look after your dog for the day to make sure they’re out of the way. The doors are likely to be left open and you don't want them running out or wandering off.

Once the bulk of the move has been completed, it's advised that you unpack your dog's items first to ensure a familiar scent is within the home. If possible, unpack their toys, bedding and food before they step inside the house. You may want to keep some of these items in the car with them during the journey too as it'll be a great comfort.

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Moving House With a Cat

Cats are very territorial animals that develop strong bonds with their environment, so a house move can cause them a lot of distress. We’ve created the ultimate timeline for moving house with your cat to avoid the stress of moving house.

Moving House with a Cat

One Week Before The Move – Prepare Your Cat

Get your cat used to the carrier that it’ll be in for the journey by letting your cat play in it a week before the move. Leave a blanket and some toys in it also, or anything that will have a familiar smell to them. This will help ease the tension by gradually preparing your cat for the house move, rather than putting them straight in the cage on the day. Where possible, try to keep their routine the same to provide structure and familiarity.

You can also use pheromones to relax them, as you would with a dog when moving house. There will be a number of plug-in diffusers and sprays available that will keep your cat feeling calm and safe throughout the chaos of moving house.

A Few Days Before - Update Their Microchip

If your cat is microchipped, it’s important that you change your address details on the central database. Make sure your cat has a collar with its name and your new address ready for after the move. Or, if you haven't already, ask your vet to microchip your cat with your new address in the event your cat gets lost. Around the same time, you should also be registering with the new local vet.

The Day Before – Keep Your Cat to One Room

One day or even a few days before the move, clear out a room in your house that will act as a temporary ‘cat safe room’. This room will hold the cat on moving day so that it doesn't go on a walkabout or get stressed when the removal team are in. Don't forget to put a note on the door so the removal company know that this room isn’t to be opened as it will disturb the cat.

Make sure you thoroughly clean this room and the other rooms within the house before your cat is introduced to them. Cats are highly territorial and if the previous owner also had pets, the clashing smells could add tension. Cleaning the surfaces will remove the risk of 'scent competition' allowing your cat to feel more at ease in the new property.

The Day of the House Move – Create Familiar Smells

Once settled in your new house, your cat may feel uneasy due to unfamiliar smells. Rub a cloth over your cat and then on a few items in your new house so your cat can start to feel more at home. Alternatively, don’t wash their toys or blankets and keep these with your cat until they’re more familiar with the new house. Additionally, you might want to consider putting your cat in a cattery for the duration of the move to save them from any unnecessary distress.

If you do keep your cat on the property during the removal, you should try to stick to their routine as much as possible throughout the day. Try to feed them at the usual time and spend a little one-to-one time with them between unloading. Many animals sense humans' emotions, so as long as you remain calm, your cat will be more likely to as well.

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Moving House With a Rabbit

When moving house, the process will be unfamiliar to your rabbit and being in a new environment may be difficult. We've compiled these tips to help make your move with your rabbit an easy one.

Moving House with a Rabbit

Before the Move - Prepare Your Rabbit

One of the biggest concerns you should have as a pet owner when moving house, is having a safe and secure cage that is suitable for travelling. This carrier should be introduced to your rabbit before the move so that their smell becomes familiar. Rabbits feel the safest when hiding somewhere dark so you could even cover the cage so the rabbit feels secure, reducing any stress.

It's also important to note that rabbits are especially sensitive to heat. When travelling, try to maintain an interior temperature of between 4.5C and 24C, especially during long journeys.

During the Move - Make Them Feel Secure

Again, double-check that the carrier is completely safe and secure before beginning the journey. Try to put some of their favourite toys and blankets in with them to create a comforting and familiar smell. Place the carrier in the shade so they do not over-heat and keep an eye on them intermittently throughout the day.

Most rabbits will not be comfortable when in the car as they can’t anticipate motion, meaning sudden stops or accelerating can be extremely distressing. If they're with you in the car, try to drive smoothly. Once you arrive at the new property, refill their food and water and let them stay inside the carrier while they get used to the new surroundings. Once they seem happy and it's safe to do so, you can let them explore.

After the House Move - Help Your Rabbit Adjust

It will take a few days for your rabbit to feel completely at ease in the new home. However, you can help them become more comfortable. You should create a 'rabbit safe zone' where they will be free to play and eat without any distractions. Keep their blankets and toys in this area to ensure there's a familiar smell.

When you think the time is right, you should introduce your rabbit to each individual room separately. Don't try rushing them into settling in. Take your time when letting them explore the new house and make sure you keep some sort of routine to help them feel less tense.

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    Moving House With a Fish

    The thought of attempting to move your fish tank to a new house can seem daunting, but if you follow our quick tips, moving house with your fish will be simple and less demanding.

    Moving House with a Fish
    • It’s advised to transport fish in an additional fish bag to be extra careful during the move.
    • Try to get as much natural air as possible into the bag before you secure it.
    • Once the fish is safely in the bag, keep it somewhere dark to completely reduce stress.
    • Reintroduce your fish to their new home just as carefully as you did when you first bought them.

    Moving House With a Reptile

    Moving house with your reptiles doesn't have to be hard. We've put together some helpful tips to help you with moving your snake, lizard, turtle or other reptile.

    Moving House with a Reptile
    • Transport your reptile in a well ventilated, comfortable case or box.
    • Ensure the right light levels to lower the chance of stress.
    • Stow your reptiles safely in your car and not in the removal van.
    • Bring heat packs, water and food in case of delay.

    Tips for Moving House With Pets

    There's a lot to think about when moving, especially if it involves moving to a new house with pets. Here are a few helpful tips to help make the moving process as stress-free as possible for you and your beloved animals.

    1. Take your pet to a trusted kennel or cattery

    Just as you would compare removal companies and property surveyors, compare your local kennels and catteries. Make sure you find a verified professional who you know will take care of your pets and provide a safe, comfortable environment until you return. If you think it would make your pet more at ease, arrange for them to stay with a dependable family member or friend instead.

    2. Update their microchip and collar

    It's already been mentioned but it's essential that you update the details on your pet's collar and microchip as soon as you can. Moving day can be incredibly stressful and chaotic, meaning you won't be able to constantly watch over your animals. Dogs, cats or even rabbits may have the opportunity to escape and so it's vital their details are up-to-date with your new address and phone number included.

    3. Inform your removal company

    When speaking to your chosen removal company, don't forget to mention that there will be animals present. This will allow them to plan accordingly and inform the removal team to keep an eye out. This is especially important if you're moving with exotic pets.

    Not all removal companies will have the knowledge and experience required to move exotic animals. They will need specialist equipment to ensure a safe house move for the animals and their homes, meaning you may need a specific team to complete the job.

    4. Visit the new location in advance

    To get them familiar with the new house and local area, try to take your pets for walks or a few visits before your moving date. This will only be possible if you're moving fairly close by, however, it can be a great help to your animal. They will need to grow accustomed to their new home and you can check for any holes or broken fences that may risk their safety in the future.

    5. Don't feed your pet right before the move

    Many people believe the disruption of moving house causes stress with animals. As true as this may be, even something as simple as the journey itself may cause sickness and tension. Try to feed your pets a few hours before the move so that it gives their stomach's time to settle, reducing the risk of travel sickness or nausea.

    6. Set up their own quiet space

    When you arrive at the new property, try to prioritise your pets' belongings first. Unpack their food, water, toys and blankets and create a safe zone for them that's filled with a familiar scent. This will hopefully calm them down and help them settle in.

    Don't forget to compare removal quotes to ensure you find a professional and trusted removals company that can help ensure a safe and organised move for everyone involved.

    Move Your Pets With Compare My Move

    Now that you know exactly what to do in the week before moving house with your pet, get connected with Compare My Move to save you time, money and stress on your move. Just fill out our quick form and we'll provide you with up to 6 friendly home removal companies in your area.

    If you're moving abroad and need to organise the same journey for your beloved animals, you can also read our guide to moving abroad with pets for further information.

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    Martha Lott

    Written by Martha Lott

    Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

    Dave Sayce

    Reviewed by Dave Sayce

    Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

    Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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