How to Help Pets Cope With Moving
Experts weigh in.
In the hustle and bustle of moving to a new home, our furry family members tend to be overlooked. Moving can be a very stressful experience for cats and dogs too. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure a smoother transition for your pets.
We spoke to Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD and Chief Veterinary Officer at Purina, and Dr. Annie Valuska, PhD and senior pet behavior scientist at Purina, who shared their best tips and tricks to help your pets cope with the upheaval of moving.
Take a "Practice Run"
If you're moving with dogs, consider taking them with you to scout out the new neighborhood. This helps them become familiar with the scents and sounds of the new scenery.
For cats, make sure he or she is used to its crate before the big day. Try leaving the carrier out with the door open for the cat to explore weeks prior to the move. You can make it more enticing by putting the cat's favorite treats and toys inside. Adding a familiar scent helps the crate become a safe space. From there, take a few short practice drives to get the cat used to traveling in the carrier. This will reduce its stress on moving day.
Make a Moving Day Pet Plan
Moving day will most likely be chaotic. Consider your cat's safety by keeping him or her out of the way of the moving process. The bathroom at the new home is an ideal spot to temporarily place food, water, and a litter box, so cats are out of the way and comfortable until the move is complete.
Dogs are a bit trickier. It's best to either assign a family member to care for them throughout the move or ask a trusted friend to pet-sit for the day.
Help Curious Cats Settle-In
While dogs tend to be more go-with-the-flow, cats aren't usually big fans of change. It can take some time for felines to become comfortable with their new surroundings. Ensure doors and windows are closed as they may try to escape to find their old homes. Cats may also "disappear" for a few days into a dark hiding place like a closest to calm their nerves. Establish your normal routine, and they'll pick up on your mood and behaviors, becoming more relaxed over time. Another tip is to start by dedicating a room to them with all their things, so they become used to the new home one room at a time before spreading their "scent soakers" like used bedding and scratching posts across the house to make it feel more familiar. Finally, place their litter box in a permanent location to avoid confusion.
Let Dogs Sniff-Out Their Space
Allow dogs to use their natural instincts to smell and explore by walking them on a leash for their first tour around the house. The sooner they get used to the scents of their new environment, the sooner they'll feel at home. Try to maintain a regular routine and spend extra time with them at home to help them feel secure. It's best to avoid leaving your pup outside unattended in the beginning; a new environment may bring out new skills you didn't know your dog had like jumping over or digging under fences as an attempt to return to familiar ground.