You’ve probably heard the saying that moving is one of life’s most stressful events, right up there with death, divorce and major illness. While experts are divided on how accurate this really is, there’s no doubt that changing homes can be challenging – and that’s just as true if you happen to have four legs.
“Moving can be quite unsettling for pets, especially cats,” celebrity vet Dr Lisa Chimes explains. Fortunately, a little bit of pet psychology can go a long way. Whether it’s a dog, cat or bird, Here’s how to make the big day as seamless as possible!
Prevent great escapes
To prevent any Homeward Bound situations, it’s important to give your pet time to get accustomed to their new digs.
“The most common problem we see with moving house is pets escaping and trying to return to their old address, so it’s important to ensure your new home is secure,” says Dr Lisa. “Keep as much consistency as possible – use their familiar bedding, toys and routines. Using species-specific pheromone sprays and diffusers may help make the transition easier.”
It’s totally normal for pets to have a few mishaps after they move house.
“You may notice a regression of toilet training, especially for older dogs and those with vision impairment – go back to basics by taking them to the toilet area frequently and rewarding them when they use the right area,” says Dr Lisa.
“Installing doggy doors can help. Ignore accidents and focus on positive reinforcement. Taking them on regular sniff walks around their new neighbourhood will allow them to mark their territory and learn about other pets in the area.”
For cat owners, Dr Lisa suggests using multiple litter trays around the home can help to reduce the likelihood of toilet accidents.
If your pet won’t eat…
When pets get stressed, they may refuse to eat, or have other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea. If this happens, try to keep them as relaxed as possible.
“Offer small frequent meals of their regular food and avoid sudden dietary changes,” says Dr Lisa. “Often they just need a little time, however, sometimes stress can trigger certain illnesses, so if their appetite is reduced for more than 24 hours or you notice any other abnormalities, then it’s best to visit your vet for a check-up.”
Recruit a dog sitter
If you have a dog, it may help to enlist someone you know to pet sit on the big day.
“On moving day, it’s best to send your dog to a friend, carer or day care as people are often distracted by the chaos of the move and pets can often become stressed or even lost,” Dr Lisa explains. “Once you arrive in the new home, ensure they have plenty of interaction with you, as well as exercise and environmental enrichment such as puzzle activities, lick mats and
Keep cats contained
Cats are creatures of habit, so it can take them time to adjust after moving. On moving day, keep them in their carrier in a safe spot until you’re ready to show them their new home.
“Give cats a single room in the new house – provide them with bedding they can hide in, areas for climbing, a litter tray, small frequent meals and free access to water,”says Dr Lisa.
“Keep doors and windows closed to prevent escapes. They will often need to spend at least a couple of weeks in this room. This gives them time to acclimatise to the new space – gradually increase the area they have access to as they display signs of acceptance and don’t let them roam outside.”
Bird-proof your home
Moving with birds is a little easier but there are still some things you need to look out for.
“Birds tend to cope with moving house quite well as long as they have their familiar enclosure and routines,” says Dr Lisa. “Don’t let them fly freely around the house until you have bird-proofed it to prevent escapes, accidents and toxin exposures.”
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