Christmas is an exciting time of year for us, as we meet with family and friends and indulge in all the celebrations this festive season brings. However, we sometimes forget that it can actually be quite a stressful time of year for our furry friends.
It is a time of year often associated with welcoming guests into our homes and the arrival of new scents and noises that our pets may not have experienced before. Take a look at this blog to help make sure your Christmas as stress-free as possible for your furry friends.
What causes stress in pets?
Our pets may not be the best at coping with change in our daily lives, but during the festive season there are additional factors which may cause increased stress levels in our pets. These may include:
- New or intense aromas – a cat’s sense of smell is 14 times more sensitive than a human’s, but a dog’s is thought to be 1,000-1,000,000 times more powerful.
- Christmas trees and decorations – pets may like to investigate the enticing tinsel and flashing lights, but ingestion of decorations can be very harmful to our furry friends.
- Lack of daily routine – new visitors and more downtime for us means daily routines of walks and snoozes may be disrupted for our pets.
- Changes in behaviour – excitable children and the unpredictable hustle and bustle of Christmas can often intimidate our pets.
- Loud sounds – the bang of Christmas crackers and loud music can make our pets feel anxious if have not experienced it before.
What are the signs of stress?
There are some evident signs that you’ll notice if your pet is feeling stressed or anxious:
- Trembling or shaking
- Hiding behind furniture
- Loss of appetite
- Pacing and panting
- Excessive licking or grooming
- Biting, growling or snarling
- Repetitive yawning
- Consistent barking or meowing
How can you minimise stress?
- There are a variety of non-prescription, natural products available to help negate the effects of stress and anxiety in pets. Feliway and Adaptil use pheromones which are odourless to people but have a calming effect on your pet in stressful situations. Your vet will be able to advise you on the most suitable product for your pet.
- If your pet isn’t used to being around lots of people, it is important that you create a space in your home where they can feel safe. A room with water bowls, litter trays and your pet’s favourite toys will help reduce their anxiety.
- Decorations may help make your home feel festive but to cats and dogs, they are something new to explore and play with. Begin decorating your house with small decorations and gradually increase the size and number of decorations. Artificial Christmas trees are best for households with pets, as there is no risk of fallen needles being consumed or causing harm.
- Children may want to fuss over your pet but this will cause your pet to feel stressed. Ensure children are fully supervised and try to make children approach your pet in a calm manner.
- Try to minimise disruption to routines such as food, exercise, and toilet breaks, as consistency will help your furry friends feel more secure. Also, make sure nocturnal animals such as hamsters are kept in quiet, dark places during the day so they are not disturbed.
We hope your pets enjoy this festive season as much as you do, and we would like to wish you a very merry Christmas!
All our practices operate a 24-hour service, so if your pet requires emergency treatment in the early hours of the morning or late at night, please call your local Medivet practice using our online practice finder to be directed to a 24-hour emergency care service accordingly.