In the Doghouse: Property Downsizing (For Pet Lovers)

Moving to a new home is already complicated but things get really hairy once you throw pets into the mix. If you’re planning to downsize and you have resident non-humans, you’ll want to do what’s best for their health and happiness – here are a few key considerations.


Finding the Right Property

Contrary to common stigma, downsizing isn’t always a step down. Many Brits move to a smaller home for reasons related to comfort, convenience and mobility – these benefits may also apply for pets. A smaller home with less stairs, for example, could prove easier for a pet to navigate if they have limited mobility. Before you plan any move, you’ll want to consider how the layout of the house, garden space and furniture will correspond with your pet’s lifestyle. A good way to get to the bottom of this, is to request a floorplan of any property that you’re interested in.


Some properties, which have had pets previously, are specially designed for the purpose of housing pets. Special features can include dog staircases and windows, contained outdoor areas, and even walk-in showers. Before you get too ahead of yourself, it’s worth considering that these additions can contribute significant value to a property – you should try to calculate potential costs ahead of any offers.


Prepping for a Move

You’ve had an offer accepted and found a buyer for your own property, now it’s time for the logistics. The first obstacle is transporting your pet – especially if you’re moving long distances cross-country, this can be an uncomfortable experience. To help them adjust, give them the pet carrier days in advance, with their favourite toys and treats inside so they have time to explore and get used to the enclosed space. It can help to treat this similarly to preparation for air travel.

The process of cleaning out a property, ready for move-out day, is also typically hectic. It can help to hire a professional cleaning service to handle this – they’ll be able to do a more thorough job and it means you can spend time with your pet, either walking them or distracting them through all the hoovering, strange smell, and noises.

Moving and Settling

The actual day of moving can prove to be incredibly stressful for an uninitiated pet. Many cats and dogs run away during the clearing out period, whilst doors are left jarred open and with the frightening clatter of large furniture. To avoid any drama, it can help to board your pet or leave them with a friend on the day, avoiding the situation entirely. Always leave them with items of familiarity – remember, just like us, they often need time to process change.


Once you’ve arrived in the new property, you can help your pet to adjust to the new space by trying to create familiarity. This includes placing food and water bowls in similar areas to the old property, quickly establishing a living space that they know is theirs (use their old bed and familiar-smelling blankets) and encouraging them to explore around the rest of the house. If you have cats, try to create routes up to larger windows and perch spots for them to observe from.


It’s easy to underestimate the toll of downsizing on both you and your pets. To ensure that things run as smoothly and stress-free as possible, make sure you carry out plenty of research and preparation.


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