With Christmas just around the corner, it is a busy time of year in many households, which can be stressful for our pets as well as for us.
How is the Christmas period stressful for pets?
Visitors: Lots of people, familiar and unfamiliar coming and going can be disruptive to your pet’s usual routine. Nervous pets may be overwhelmed by lots of different people in the home and increased noise levels.
Excitable children: Naturally children love Christmastime, but all the excitement can increase the level of noise in the home, and children may want to over-fuss/ play with pets they haven’t met before- who maybe aren’t used to children or would rather be left alone.
Owners going away: Owners may go on holiday over the Christmas period or be out for the day, leaving the pet alone longer than normal. They may also have to go into kennels/cattery or be left with a ‘stranger’ looking after them in the home.
Flashing lights/noisy decorations: They are pretty for us to look at but can be frightening to pets.
Fireworks: These loud sudden explosions and flashes in the sky cause intense anxiety for animals.
How do I know if my pet is stressed?
- Hiding away
- Trembling, shaking, shivering
- Toileting within the house
- Over grooming
- Lip licking
- Destructive behaviourSteps to minimise pet stress this Christmas
- If your pet is easily overwhelmed, try to introduce things gradually, e.g. avoid putting all decorations up in one day and suddenly changing their environment.
- Supervise children with pets at all times.
- Allow your pet a quiet/clutter free area to hide away and escape to if they need it.
- Continue normal regimes as much as possible, e.g. feeding and exercise times.
- Consider use of pheromone diffusers in the run up to Christmas. Ask your vet or nurse about the use of calming supplements. Remember that both of these are most effective when started weeks before the event, so allow plenty of time.
- If someone is looking after your pet in your home whilst you are away, ensure they know your pet’s normal routine and try to introduce them to your pet a few times in advance.
- Be wary of crackers/party poppers, etc. when pets are near.
- If your pet has firework phobia, do not over fuss them whilst fireworks are going off, this will reinforce the behaviour. Act normally and try to distract them with toys, radio/TV noise or play.