Moving home is right up there on the list of life’s most stressful events, help your pets avoid suffering that stress too.
You’re moving house, your home’s been boxed up and stacked on the nature strip and you’re stressed; but at least you know what’s going on.
The creatures that share your hearth and home weren’t consulted about the move, so they’ll be confused, uncomfortable and frightened.
Vet, Dr. Chris Andrews, says careful planning is paramount when moving with pets. “Do the pets move with you on the trip, or do you place them in boarding kennels where they can be securely looked after?
You don’t want them accidently lost in the confusion of the move when someone leaves a car door open,” he says.
If you expect your pets to be troublesome, Dr. Chris recommends chemical assistance. “There’s a facial pheromone cats secrete when feeling relaxed, and they sniff at that point later to dose themselves with their own pheromone.
It’s almost Prozac for cats. Feliway is a synthetic copy and comes as a diffuser. There’s a similar product for dogs – dog-appeasing pheromone or DAP
“Start exposing your pet to the product 3 or 4 days in advance so they’re well and truly spaced out by moving day. Plug in the diffuser in a small room.
You could use both products in the same room; Feliway has no effect on dogs and DAP no effect on cats. Then take the diffusers to the new home and expose the pets to them again.”
If changing vets, either take your pet’s medical records with you, or have them transferred to your new vet.
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Dr Chris advises sedation for pets who hate car travel. “It’s the only way to ensure they don’t evacuate their bowels in the car. If a dog’s never been driven, or only ever to the vet for injections, what does he think of the car?”
“On a long car trip, you’ll need to make regular stops. Take a dog for a short walk on a lead – you don’t want him taking off when he sees a rabbit, or getting bitten by a snake. The animal must be restrained if you want a good outcome.”
Make sure pets have familiar items and favourite toys for the trip, something comforting that will help reduce confusion and stress.
Take cats outside on a leash, if you can, to get them familiar with their new home.
Fish and other marine animals are the most difficult to move, Dr Chris says, because of their specialised environment.
“You must move their environment with them. If you’re transporting fish in a plastic bag, a fish retailer can put a squirt of pure oxygen into the bag.
Keep your furry friends in mind as you pack, animals can be very sensitive to change.
On warm days, if the water temperature rises there may not be enough oxygen to keep the fish alive. If possible, use a battery pack to keep an aerator going.”
Use a pet-carrier – For safety and security, all cats, small dogs and smaller animals need close confinement in a pet-friendly container.
Keep cats inside for up to four weeks to ensure they know this is now home.
Keep dogs on a chain lead – They can get stressed if tied up, and may chew through a nylon lead.
Avoid heat stress – On hot days use air-conditioning in the car. It won’t upset pets and could save lives. Carry a supply of water.
Handle with care. Moving can be stressful for pets too.
Inspect your new home to ensure it’s a pet-friendly environment, particularly if there were no pets there previously. Check that the fencing is secure, and scan holes and corners for rat bait – dogs will eat it.
Settle your pet in with its bed, toys etc to give it some familiar smells and surroundings.
“If leaving pets unattended, especially in a new house, take some clothing you’ve worn for 3 or 4 days and leave it in the pet’s bed or container. Don’t wash it – it should smell strongly of the owner to have a calming effect.
“If you haven’t moved far, cats must be confined for as long as 4 weeks until they realise that this is now home.
During that time, take the cat into the yard away from the house to let it see what the house looks like, and let it smell the yard, so if it wanders, it can recognise home.”
Dr. Chris recommends making flea control a high priority.
“If the previous owners had animals, how good were they at flea control? I’ve seen minor flea plagues in a house that’s been left empty for a time. A cocoon of larval fleas in the carpet reaches the pupa stage, then they’re stimulated by the vibration when the first foot falls in the house, and a few thousand hatch into hungry adult fleas.”
Certain parts of Australia, particularly along the east coast, are affected by the paralysis tick. “Its preferred host is the bandicoot, but it will frequently attach to other animals and inject a really potent neurotoxin which can kill dogs, cats and rabbits if left untreated.”
Ensure your pet is wearing a current id tag and/or has a microchip with up-to-date contact details. Attach a travel tag to your pet’s collar with your contact details at your destination in case your pet becomes lost during the move.
As your pet may be confined for a long period while moving, give them plenty of time to stretch and exercise before placing them in the carrier. It’s advisable that they travel on an empty stomach.
Ask your veterinarian for guidance on feeding your pet before and after travel. It is not recommended that you give your pet sedatives for air travel as the animal will lose its ability to keep its balance or brace itself in rough conditions.
Changes in pressure can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems for tranquilised animals.
Collect your pet asap on reaching your destination. Perform a daily health check on your pet and monitor their appetite, disposition and energy levels in the new environment.
Visit a local vet if you observe any changes in your pet’s physiological or behavioural state.
Moving is a stressful time for people as well as pets. By following the simple steps outlined above, you can be sure you’ve made the experience as comfortable as possible for your pet.
When you get to your new home, spend time with your pet and give it some reassurance and well-deserved attention.
N.B. The information provided here is of a general nature only. Consult a vet for the best advice on looking after your pet before you move
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