After an unpredictable and tumultuous year, we are all looking forward to a much-needed break as many of us count down the days until we can sit back and relax. But before you start planning your dream vacation, you might want to consider putting arrangements in place for your pets during this time.
Whether you’ll be going away on holiday, or spending it with family, it’s important to consider how your pets will adapt to the changes in their environment. Will there be friends and family visiting, coupled with a lot of laughter and excitement that your pets may not be used to? Will they be going on holiday with you? If not, will they be staying at the kennels or the cattery? Or will a sitter be looking after them while you are away?
Dr Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition says that all of these changes, along with loud events such as New Year’s Eve, can cause your pets to become extremely anxious. Dogs and cats’ hearing is much sharper, and more sensitive than ours. So even if there is loud noise quite a fair distance from your home, it could still trigger an anxious reaction.
To identify whether you pet is anxious and nervous, here are the signs to look out for:
- Hiding away
- Bowel and bladder accidents (potentially with change in fecal consistency)
- Excessive panting
- Inability to settle down
- Excessive licking or chewing
- Attempting to escape their environment
- Barking and howling more excessively than usual
You can make these changes around your home to help pets during this stressful time. Dr Fyvie recommends the following:
- Keep familiar noises or sounds playing in the house such as the TV and some background music.
- Create a comfortable, smaller space in the house for your dog or cat to retreat to when they’re feeling anxious.
- Keep outside noises and bright lights (like fireworks) at bay by closing the windows, doors, and curtains at home.
- For outdoor cats who come and go as they please, rather place a litter tray inside and close the doors and the cat flap, so they can’t go outside that evening.
- If you can’t stay at home with your pets, have someone else they trust there to calm and reassure them.
- It’s always best to introduce the pet sitter to the pets before the pet parents leave. If possible, the pet parents should introduce the pets to the pet sitter, so that the pets can become familiar.
- If you’re dropping your pet off at the kennel or cattery for the holidays, send them with their bed, favourite chew toy and blankie to bring them comfort. This way the change of environment won’t be as dramatic and stressful for them.