Moving house with your pets

Posted on: 05 July 2016 by Gareth Hargreaves

Moving house is just as stressful for the family pet as it is for you. Here are some simple tips to keep Tiddles, Shep and their furry chums happy.

moving house with pets

Moving home is a difficult time for any household pet. Whether it's a dog or a hamster, animals do not like their routine disturbed. Dogs in particular hate being parted from their owners and will pine if the separation is too long. All of them need feeding and they need to be surrounded by familiar things. Pets are home loving creatures and if not included in your moving plans they might be the first to run away, except maybe your goldfish!

So what can you do to help family pets move safely and happily? The starting point is to use a moving firm that is a member of British Association of Removers (BAR). All their member firms have met stringent membership criteria and have experience in moving pets and animals. Here are some general tips:


Keep them away on moving day. Ask a neighbour or relative who knows your dog to look after it. The sight of its owner packing can be worrying. If this is not possible, keep them close by in a quiet room, preferably with their bed and a few toys.

When you arrive at the new house, and this applies to cats too, wait until everything is indoors before bringing them in. Make sure their basket and any toys are ready. The idea is to keep everything looking as normal as possible; not always easy, it is true.

Dogs adapt quicker than cats to their new surroundings but can still be very excitable. For a while it does not do any harm to keep them on a lead. Alternatively, leave them in a quiet room with food and water to recover from the journey.

Dog tags need to have your new address and phone numbers on. Make sure that they keep their collars on at all times just in case they get lost and try to return back to your old house. Every year many animals are lost when their owners move house.


If possible, keep them with a friend on moving day as they have a habit of wandering off on some private mission. Just when you are packed and ready to leave the house, you don't want to be looking for your cat.

Make sure you don't let its food and milk go in the moving van. Cats can be very unforgiving sometimes.

For the journey, buy or hire a travel basket. Your movers may be able to hire or lend you one. Try and have your cat inside the basket before the removal men arrive. Cats especially do not like moving and are very likely to run away.

As with a dog, the sight of familiar things such as a basket or favourite rug can be very comforting on arrival. Cats may take a little time to adjust to their new surroundings. Give your cat a fresh litter tray, food and lots of attention.


Small birds travel best in a well ventilated box, with subdued lighting. This has a calming effect. If your bird is travelling in its own cage, take out any articles that might become dislodged. If possible, put their cage in a position in the new home as similar as possible to the old home. Caged birds will normally travel quite well and will be happy with you in the car, but the journey needs to be short and they need their food, water and ventilation.


Fish should be taken out of their tank and put into a proper container designed for their transport. These are available from any good pet shop or specialist fish retailer. The fish tank should then be emptied, dried and protected with polystyrene packing for the journey. Talk to your mover about these details before the move starts.

Guinea pigs, hamsters and small animals

Small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits are best transported in well ventilated "chew-proof" containers made of metal or rigid plastic. Give them plenty of bedding, a little food, and water throughout.

Moving overseas

There are specialists in the field of animal transportation that work closely with BAR moving companies. A professional moving company will have moved all kinds of pets. Make a point of asking for advice if you have prized collections of fish or birds to be moved. If you have household pets, telephone the company in advance if you want to make special arrangements for their transfer. If in doubt, contact the RSPCA or PDSA for specialist information.

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