Once the cold weather arrives and the first snow falls, it's not uncommon for the next noticeable step in the change of season to be the hustle and bustle of our homes as the holiday season approaches. This can be just as stressful for your pets as it is for you!
There are many situations that can be stressful for your dog or cat, beyond arriving in their new family! Interactions with new people, loud noises, new smells or unfamiliar places can all be sources of anxiety for your companions. To ensure that everyone has a great holiday season, you can learn to recognize the signs of stress in your pets to help them deal with these unsettling situations and offer them comfort.
Each pet is unique and will show its own signs of stress, but until you know your pet's tendencies and reactions, you can generally rely on the following symptoms.
Signs of stress in dogs:
Excessive or unusual barking
Heart rate higher than usual
Change in hygiene habits
Signs of stress in cats:
Urine marking, incontinence or uncleanliness
Scratching of walls or furniture
Unusual frequent meowing
Repeated infectious diseases
Pay attention to your pet's normal habits and behaviors and be alert to any changes in them. Don't necessarily associate an undesirable behavior with a bad habit! It could simply be an indicator of discomfort in your pet that has no other way of letting you know!
Consider changes in routine, a change in environment (did you move its things to make room for a Christmas tree in the living room?!) or a change in diet. Can you help your pet by rearranging your schedule or his space? Ask visitors to stay away from your nervous dog when they arrive at your home and give him a chance to take the first steps? Prepare a quiet, comfortable room for the cat to stay in for the duration of the grandchildren's visit? Often, with a little ingenuity and patience, you can find an adaptive solution to modify or eliminate the source of your pet's stress before it even feels the effects.
And if the signs of stress do not subside, consult your veterinarian to rule out medical causes. Your veterinarian can also offer you advice tailored to your pet!