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Downsizing With Pets: Reducing Stress and Moving Smoothly

Friday, 5 November 2021 11:09 AM

Moving for humans, says the Express, is more stressful than a divorce, relationship breakdown, or starting a new job. Unfortunately, it can be doubly so for your furry friends – they have no control over or understanding of their situation. The ASPCA reports that it sometimes triggers separation anxiety in them.

If you’re downsizing with a pet, you must account for their emotional and physical needs. They are super-sensitive to changes in their environment and routine and require constant reassurance and care from you to settle into a new place comfortably.

The Groomers Spotlight features qualified professional groomers who can give your pet a nice rub down, which can help them to relax and soothe their anxiety. Below, we offer some helpful tips and suggestions on minimizing stress and downsizing smoothly with your animal best friend:

Before the move

  1. Ensure any new home and neighborhood are pet-friendly

First, when you house hunt, make sure the housing estate or apartment building allows pets – some don’t or have specific rules you have to follow. Next, take a look at the available free space: Pets usually need some room to run around, so keep that in mind when you downsize. Some other considerations are pet safety and the presence of vets and walking areas in the neighborhood.

  1. Make sale and purchase arrangements

Downsizing may involve selling your old home and purchasing a new one. Start preparations early to make the process less chaotic and stressful for both you and your pet (They pick up on your energy and mood, and reflect it). Some arrangements to make are insurance, packing, hiring movers, hiring brokers, a house inspection, staging, and mortgage.

Helpful mortgage tip: Lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio to see how much you can realistically pay per month. To figure out your debt-to-income ratio, add up your existing debts (the monthly payment) and divide it by your gross income per month.

  1. Take them to the vet

It’s a good idea to visit your vet one final time. If you’re moving out of state or the country, your pet may need some special vaccinations or certifications. Also, any new vet will need a copy of their medical records. Finally, it’s always a good idea to get a clean bill of health for your pet.

  1. Take them to see their new home

If you’re moving to a smaller house nearby, you could take your dog to see it (this doesn’t apply to cats). Allow them to sniff around and take them on a walk around the neighborhood if possible. It will allow them to form a connection to the place, and settle in that much faster when you move in.

  1. Familiarize them with the pet carrier

Introduce your pet to a carrier or crate (more applicable to cats and when you’re flying out) a couple of weeks before the moving date. Pad it out with a comfortable blanket, place their favorite toy and treats, and encourage them to get in and explore it. This will put them at ease when you’re transporting them in the carrier on moving day. 

  1. Pack an overnight bag

When you pack an overnight bag full of necessities for yourself – so you don’t have to root around in boxes trying to find a toothbrush – make sure to pack one for your pet too. Load it up with their favorite toys, treats, feeding bowl, pet food, and medicines for quick access later. 

During the move

  1. Keep them safe

Pets can be confused and anxious by the presence of strangers, like movers or handymen, in the home. Keep them contained in a quiet area if you can to reduce their anxiety, prevent destructive behavior, and stop them from running off. When you’re traveling, make sure you restrain them in some fashion to prevent their escape. Lastly, keep an eye on them at all times and shower them with love to keep them calm.

  1. Visit rest stops along the way

If you’re moving by car, it’s a good idea to visit rest stops along the way and let your pet out of the car. It will let them release some steam and get rid of excess energy, not to mention give them a chance to relieve themselves.

  1. Consider removing them from the situation altogether

Transporting your pet can be difficult and stressful for everyone involved, regardless of the preparation and care you take. You could leave your pet with a sitter for the duration if that’s an option. You can collect your pet afterward when the new house is ready. 

After the move

  1. Mind the hazards

Pets can be too curious for their own good. As soon as you move in, check for hazards in and around your new home. Make sure the fencing is secure and there is no debris, plastics, loose wiring, or similar objects that could hurt your pet. Pet-proof your home, and consider keeping your pet contained in a room for safety while you unpack.

  1. Reintroduce their usual routine

Dogs and cats are creatures of routine. They like having their meals at a set time and want all their things to be in the same place. Recreate their routine at the new house: Feed them at a time they are used to, in the place they are used to (say the kitchen). Keep their bed and toys where they expect them to be. Maintain their bedtimes and walk times to help them settle in faster.

  1. Help them with their anxiety if necessary

Reintroducing their routine should help pets settle in, but sometimes that may not be enough. Your pets may develop a type of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety or environmental anxiety. This is usually accompanied by symptoms like destructive behavior or fight or flight response, as Animal Surgical affirms. In such cases, distract them with toys, tire them out with exercise, create safe places throughout the house, and consider natural remedies like catnip or CBD. 


It could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your pets to settle in. Play with them often, pet them, and just spend time with them. This will make them feel more safe and comfortable, and also reduce the chances of them developing a condition like separation anxiety.

Image via Unsplash

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