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Moving Homes with a Cat and/or Dog

Many of my clients know that I spent years in the veterinary field. In fact, parts of my career in real estate have been “moonlighting” as I worked full time at the vet hospital. But I learned years ago that both fields require ALL of your attention, and so I could only choose one.

Ultimately, my love for real estate outweighed the long nights and difficult shifts in the veterinary field and I chose at long last to become a broker and business owner. I owe a lot of my success and my ability to work in real estate full time to the loyalty and strong connections I created in the veterinary field.

I miss the camaraderie and working on a great team of caring professionals.

But I digress… I bring up my time in the veterinary field to preface this month’s blog post topic, which unites the two careers in which I’ve spent the majority of my life. Today I’m going to talk about the struggles of moving your pets into your new home!

I thought this would be a great topic to discuss because in the process of buying a house, and the logistics of coordinating a move and confronting so many exciting changes, the potential difficulties your move presents for your pets might get lost in the shuffle.

OK. So I’m a huge sucker for animals, and my dog, Ella Fitzsnuggles, is QUEEN. So, of course I’m your real estate broker concerned about how your pets are making out with all these changes!

But, seriously, change can be extremely upsetting to pets, especially dogs and cats. When we bought our home, we didn’t anticipate how much stress and anxiety it would cause for The Fitzsnuggles.

Only a few days into adjusting to the new place and we recognized something wasn’t right. The first time our dog was left at home alone, my husband came home to find she had vomited. The anxiety from the change had triggered an upset GI that would lead to pancreatitis and several very expensive vet bills.

Thankfully, we were able to get The Fitzsnuggles feeling better and she grew comfortable in her new home. Now she’s queen again, reigning from the top of her living room chair, looking out our big window and keeping a close eye on the neighborhood!

It’s important to know and understand your pet in order to anticipate any potential negative reactions to such a drastic change that comes from changing homes. Dogs and cats who tend to be neurotic or exhibit signs of anxiety are much more likely to have issues adjusting to a new home and should pique your concern.

For this blog post I’m going to focus on dogs and cats, though of course there are so many different animals and all of them require your patience and time to help them adjust smoothly into your new home.

For dogs, there are a lot of different options to help them adjust. For us, spending more time at the new home with The Fitzsnuggles before leaving her alone might’ve been enough to keep her anxiety from causing her GI issues.

Other helpful tips include taking time allowing the dog to adjust to packing your belongings prior to moving, setting up the dog’s space right away in the new home, and using treats and a cheerful voice and attention to create a positive association with the moving process.

Another option for dogs that are particularly anxious or neurotic is talking with your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications.

The tips or suggestions that are going to work best for your dog comes back to knowing your dog well. For example, The Fitzsnuggles is crate-trained and very comfortable in her crate. We adopted her when she was four years old and learned through the adoption process that she had spent most of her early life in a crate. This was her safe space.

In fact, the day we’d come home to find she’d vomited, she had retreated to the comfort of her crate upstairs. Keeping her in her crate through the early days of our move might’ve made her more comfortable in the adjustment process.

Unfortunately for cat owners, dogs are usually a little easier to help adjust. Cats often have the most difficult time with moving homes – especially the traveling  itself!

Still, with plenty of patience and by taking things slowly, you’ll find a smooth move is very possible. Many of the tips for dogs apply to cats too. But there are some tough differences.

For one, most dogs are used to traveling in a car. This isn’t always the case, but most dogs are used to this part of the transition while, for many cats, the car ride itself can be traumatic.

One of the more helpful tips I’ve come across is gradually introducing your cat to a new home. Allow the cat out of her carrier in a single room with the door closed so the cat can grow comfortable and feel safe in this new, small space.

Over time you can allow your cat to explore more and more of the new home.

These tips may seem easy, and with time and patience they are. But the big thing to remember is that this transition for your pet is happening at the same time that you’re struggling, managing, breathing through and trying not to curse the exciting even if stressful process of your own move!

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping your pets adjust to the new home. Knowing your pets and preparing ahead of time, paying careful attention to their behavior throughout the process and, if need be, consulting your veterinarian are the keys to allowing a successful and anxiety-free move for your dogs and cats!

If you have any questions, or want to talk more about real estate, moving, or your adorable pets, feel free to message me today!

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Melanie Graham

Melanie Graham