Tips on Preventing Anxiety in Pets During New Year's Eve
The holidays are coming up soon, but your dog or cat might be anything but jolly this time of year. Fireworks and loud noises can cause anxiety and stress in our pets so here are a couple of ways to reduce anxiety in your pets on New Year's Eve and the holiday season.
How do you know if your dog is stressed?
Different dogs express their anxiety in different ways. Here are some signs that might alert you to your dog being stressed.
- Hiding away or under something
- Becoming more vocal, barking at loud noises or whimpering
- Licking, yawning or panting excessively can be a sign of anxiety
- Averted gaze, showing the whites of their eyes
- Destructive behaviour, such as chewing
- Pacing and inability to settle down
- Toileting in the house
- Increased clinginess
If you don’t address these behavioural changes they can continue after the holidays when you return to work, or the kids head back to school. This is especially true for highly social dogs who love being around people and receive lots of attention in forms of petting, cuddling and especially treats and play from you and visitors.
Give your pet a safe space
One of the most important things pet owners can do is to make sure your pet has a place where they can relax if visitors, loud noises or lots of people become too much.
What might be fun for people can be very overwhelming for pets so giving them a safe space where they can be in a quiet room will help.
On New Year's Eve the sounds of fireworks, partying, music and loud noises can be overwhelming for our pets. If your pet is likely to be anxious and you’re not going to be home, it’s good practice to have a space where they can’t escape and cause themselves harm. Draw the curtains or blinds to block out flashing lights and leave the TV or radio on for some background noise.
If you have a dog, you can create a puzzle feeder or frozen Kong to keep them occupied while you’re out, this is also a great way to mentally exhaust them, so they are less anxious.
Cats are quite independent creatures but loud noises and lots of activity can cause cats to try and get away and sometimes escape. Make sure you secure your cat indoors during this time of year as they can escape and become lost.
Keep up the routine
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on a good routine so make sure you give your dog plenty of exercise before any gatherings and stick to a routine to prevent anxiety.
It’s also important to keep the same routine, while it may be tempting to feed your dog something different or a few sneaky Christmas snacks these can be dangerous to our pets. You can read more about common Christmas dangers for pets in our previous blog.
Exercise for your dog
All dogs need daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally healthy. It can be easy to forget the daily walk during the holiday season and while one missed walk is fine if your dog's exercise routine drops it can affect their behaviour.
Under exercising dogs can lead to restless energy and expand into unwanted behaviours such as chewing, barking, digging and other destructive habits. Exercise is a great way for your dog to unwind and reduce the anxiety they might feel over the holiday season.
Challenge your pet’s brain
Pets can be uptight and restless when they’re stuck in the house for too long. Dogs and cats need to be entertained throughout the day but when you’re busy over the holidays this can be a challenge.
A great way to challenge your dog if they are food driven is to invest in food puzzles or Kongs.
Cats love to scratch and chase so investing in a good scratching post or encouraging them to play will be a great way to ease cats' anxiety.
Practice desensitising your pet to loud noises
Sometimes conditioning your pets to new experiences is a good thing and helps form resilience and build confidence. If your dog or cat has been scared of fireworks or thunder in the past, then you can play some YouTube videos of loud noises to help condition your pets that loud noises are normal and nothing to be afraid of. It’s recommended you speak with your veterinarian around executing this method specifically for your pet's needs.
Talk to your vet
If you are concerned about the anxiety levels around your pet, particularly around this time of year it’s best to talk to your veterinarian about their behaviour so you can come up with a plan together and help them enjoy Christmas as much as you do. You can also ask with one of our Your PetPA experts to gain some advice on next steps and things you can try to help calm your pet's anxiety.
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