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Combating pet stress during Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time, this also goes for our pets. There can be many comings and goings, with people unfamiliar to our pets visiting. These days Christmas is often accompanied by fireworks which can also prove distressing to our pets.

Loud, infrequent and randomised noise can pretty much freak your pet out. This can include Christmas crackers, party poppers, balloons, popping champagne corks and loud music. If your pet does get stressed by loud noises, try giving your pet a “safe place” where they can escape to should it become too loud for them. You can also place their favourite toy there to make them feel more comfortable. It’s also useful to remember calming pheromones such as Adaptil and Feliway can prove helpful in such situations. If needed, try turning the lights off, close the curtains and put on the radio or tv at a low volume, this can help to calm them down.

Make sure you do NOT fuss over your pet should it be showing signs of fear or anxiety. This will only reinforce the behaviour and is basically the same as telling your pet that it is ok to be afraid. It is best to continue doing something ‘normal' at home, such as cleaning, cooking or working on your hobby. Do not sit on the couch or next to your pet telling them that ‘all will be fine and not to worry!

Ensuring your pet gets plenty of exercise can help your dog burn excess energy and thus help to keep nerves and emotions calm, while making sure your pets have plenty of engaging toys to enjoy will help to keep them occupied.

Andrew Bucher, co-founder and our Chief Veterinary Officer, says: “It is really important to make sure you pay attention to your pet this festive season. If you spot any signs of anxiety or anything similar, you should first consult your vet to ensure there is no underlying medical condition that could explain the way they are acting.

If your pet gets the all-clear, then you could look into non-medical products to de-stress your pet. There are a number of suitable natural remedies and pheromones on the market such as Zylkene, Feliway, Adaptil, and Thunder Shirts, but remember these take time to become effective! Buy in advance and let them do their thing. It can also help to create a ‘safe place’ for your pet. This could be in the form of a crate, a mat, or even a separate room where your pet can go; do not disturb them when they are in their safe zone!”

So bring on the festivities, the parties, and the decorations. But don’t forget your four-legged friend!