Moving house with your pets

Jul 29, 2021 | dogs, PET BEHAVIOUR, Cats

Moving house is one of the most stressful experiences a family can go through, and even more so when pets are involved. Here’s what to do to keep stress to a minimum to ensure a smooth transition for your dogs and cats.

Moving house: before leaving your old home

1 Microchip!

Moving house creates the perfect opportunity for escape. In the chaos that ensues as furniture is unloaded and boxes are unpacked, stressed pets will run. Microchipping is undoubtedly one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pet’s safety in your new home. If your pet manages to escape, or is accidentally let out during the chaos of the move, a microchip is your surest way of finding him or her. Microchipping takes just a few minutes at your vet clinic, is inexpensive and is painless for the animal. You can read more about microchipping, and watch a quick video, here

If your pet is already microchipped, ask your vet to test that it still works. Please also check the microchip company’s website and check that your details are correct so that they can find you should your pet stray.  Make sure they have your new address and phone numbers.

2 Safety check

Before bringing your pets to your new home, walk around the erf and make absolutely sure the fencing is secure and that the gate can be securely locked. Your dog or cat will inevitably test all possible escape routes once he or she arrives.

Ensure there are no poisonous plants in your new yard. And check that your pool is properly fenced and the safety of stairs, especially if you have older pets or pets that are blind.

3 New veterinarian in your area

If you are moving to a new town, make sure you know where the nearest veterinary clinic is. Introduce yourself and ask your current vet to forward your pet’s medical history. Find out what your new vet’s emergency contact details are.

Safety and stress during the move

If possible, keep your pets away from their new home until your furniture is in and you are settled. It is especially important that they are not there when the removal van is offloading. It is very easy for pets to escape with strangers going into and out of your property. Doors are often left open, and gates unlocked. If you don’t have a place of safety for your pets, lock them in one room. Just make sure they have food, water and aren’t too hot. Have a litter tray for a cat and take your dog out on a lead for regular toilet breaks.

What to do about cats


Most cats don’t enjoy travelling and many will struggle when you try to get them into a cat carrier. Take the carrier out weeks before you move and let them get used to it by leaving the door open, with a favourite blanket inside. Throw in a few treats or some cat nip. If they’re still nervy by the time the move arrives, ask your vet for calming medication.

Settling in

It is important to keep your cat indoors in your new home for between two and six weeks. Start by exposing him or her to just one room, then gradually allow them to explore a wider area. Once they are calm, eating well and using the sandbox regularly can you let them out. Put their food and water bowl and sandbox in a quiet place with minimal foot traffic so they feel safe and calm.

Calming medication

Feliway products are fantastic for big adjustments. They contain natural pheromones which help keep cats calm. You can buy it in spray form or as a plug in for a wall plug in a room. It helps tremendously with helping your cat to settle in. Calmeze is another product you can use to help calm your cat. If your cat is particularly nervy, ask your veterinarian for a stronger calming medication.

Symptoms of stress

Watch out for changes in behaviour, urinating in strange places (bed or bath), difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, changes in appetite and constipation. If you see any behavioural changes, chat with your vet immediately.

What to do about dogs

Settling in

If possible, take them to visit the new property several times before you move so they get used to the space and the smells.Once you are in the new house put their beds, water and food bowls in a quiet area and show them where they are. Spend time walking through the house with them, and in the garden, so they get used to being in this new space.

Calming medication

Adaptil products contain pheromones to help keep dogs calm. The dog wears an Adaptil collar which works really well to calm him or hr down. Calmeze is another option or, if your dog is super stressed, chat with your vet about stronger prescription medication.

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