Causes of stress in cats and dogs

Causes of stress in cats and dogs

We all have something that makes us feel nervous or stressed. It could be heights, the thought of getting on a plane or spiders. Like us, cats and dogs have things that make them feel stressed and anxious. Is your pet already showing signs of stress, but you’re unsure of the cause? Are you planning on making a change to your pet’s environment? Do you want to make it as stress free as possible? We’ve put together a quick guide of the possible causes of stress in cats and dogs, and ways to help your pet through them.

Situations that cause stress in cats and dogs

Scroll down to see what you can do to help



Moving house


New baby or pet


Fireworks


Thunderstorms

Visits to catteries or kennels






Travelling


Spending time alone


Vet visits

Problem or destructive behaviour


Parties

 

 

Moving house


Moving house is stressful enough for people, but it also causes stress in cats and dogs. They are being taken away from their territory and put in a situation with new smells and sounds. So, planning around your cat or dog is a good idea.

·         Try to minimise the stress for your cat or dog by moving them out last and moving them in first. Choose a quiet, favourite room in your old house and set  your pet up there. Leave food, water, litter tray (cats), their bed, toys and other familiar items. Dogs in particular can get stressed if they see you packing things up. Giving your dog their own space with familiar items can help. Once the rest of your old house is all packed up, collect your cat or dog and repeat the same process in reverse at the new house. When you’ve got your new home relatively well set up, allow your pet to explore their new surroundings at their own pace. Remember to let the removal company know which room your pet is in in both houses and not to enter it.

·         Keep cats inside for a few weeks before letting them outside. Until they consider your new house ‘their home’, there's a risk they'll try returning to the old house. Once you’re satisfied that your cat is comfortable inside, you can introduce them to their outside environment. Begin with short, supervised sessions to help introduce them to their new outdoor space. Leave your contact details with the new owners of your old house in case your cat tries to venture back.

·         Update your contact details on your cat or dog's collar and microchip as soon as you move. It is a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped from 8 weeks of age and to keep the information up-to-date. We recommend cat owners do the same.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by moving house, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® Calming Diffuser and Spray, or the Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser or Spray.


A new baby or family member


New baby on the way or a new pet moving in? This is a cause of stress in cats and dogs, and can be a massive disruption on your pet’s life.

For both cats and dogs, smell plays an important part in the meeting process. The introduction of a new baby or pet should be done slowly.

·         Babies: For dogs especially, if any elements of their training are lacking, address them before the baby arrives.

Take note of where your cat or dog likes to spend time and make this ‘their space’. This gives them somewhere quiet to go if they want to.

Turn on noisy baby toys and play recordings of a baby crying to help your pet get used to the noise.

It is a good idea to introduce your pet to your baby’s smell before bringing your bundle of joy home. Give your cat or dog a blanket you’ve swaddled your new born in to help.

·         New Pets: Allow your pets to roam the house one at a time so they can get used to each other’s scent. Repeat this activity over several days.

Ideally the first face to face meeting should be on neutral ground. This could be secure park for dogs or a room not normally used by your current cat or dog.

A big source of stress for cats is concern over resources. If you have more than one cat it is essential that you have separate bowls for food and water, and separate litter trays.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by a new baby or pet, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser.

 

Fireworks


One of the biggest causes of stress in cats and dogs is fireworks. In fact, 54% of cats and 62% of dogs showsigns of distress when they hear fireworks (RSPCA, 2019). Fortunately, one advantage pet owners have with fireworks is you know what time of year they will be occurring.

In the run up to the event, play firework sounds and create a pet den.

On the night, close the curtains, windows and doors to help block out the noise and light from fireworks.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by fireworks, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser. You can also check out our step-by-step guide to preparing your pet for firework night for more advice.


Thunderstorms


Thunderstorms are one of the trickier sources of stress in cats and dogs to deal with. While you can check the weather forecast there’s no guarantee it will be correct.

Plus, cats and dogs have more sensitive hearing than us. They may know a thunderstorm is coming before we do.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by thunderstorms, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser. Having a safe space in your home where your cat or dog knows they can hide during a thunderstorm is useful too.


Travelling in the car


Travelling in a car isn't a nice experience and can be a huge cause of stress in cats and dogs. Try to make the experience as comfortable as possible for your cat or dog, especially if it’s a long drive.

·         NEVER let your pet roam free in the car while you’re driving – this goes against The Highway Code. Not only does it create a distraction, in the event of an accident you could seriously injure yourself or your pet. You can also invalidate your car insurance, so using a crate or harness is essential.

 ·         If embarking on a long journey, make sure you feed your pet a couple of hours before setting off. We recommend leaving 1-2 hours for cats and 2-3 hours for dogs. This reduces the chance of car sickness – something which can cause further stress for your cat or dog.

 ·         While you should avoid feeding you pet too much, you must ensure that water is available.

·         Remember to stop for regular toilet breaks for both you and your dog, and make sure cats have access to a travel litter tray. It’s a good idea to pack poo bags, kitchen roll and pet friendly disinfectant just in case!

 ·         Make sure your pet is safely secured before you open your car doors or windows. Their collar and microchip information should also be up to date before you travel. It is a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped and the information up to date. We recommend cat owners do the same. When in a public place, dogs must also be wearing a collar with a tag with their owner’s name and address on.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by travelling in the car, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Spray.


Visits to the vet, catteries or kennels

 

A vet visit or trip to the cattery or kennel is sometimes unavoidable, but still a source of stress in cats and dogs.

·         It can be helpful to try and get your cat or dog used to the carrier or crate before you need to use it. Leaving the door open and allowing them to explore it in the home is a good start. You may wish to feed your pet inside it, as this helps create a positive association with being in the carrier/crate. You can then move on to sitting them inside while the carrier/crate is in the car.

 ·         Before putting your pet in their carrier, lay down a blanket or bedding that smells of them. The familiar smell can help them feel more relaxed. When travelling with your dog, either use a crate or a harness.

 ·         It can be a good idea to pack poo bags, kitchen roll and pet friendly disinfectant just in case of nervous accidents.

 ·         Once you’ve returned home, with cats in particular don't try to tempt them out. Simply open the door and allow your pet to come out at their own pace.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by visits to the vet, catteries or kennels, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Spray.


Parties


Your pet will be used to having your family around, but having their territory invaded by lots of people has the potential to cause a stress in cats and dogs.

·         Play any music you’ll be having before the party to allow your pet to get used to the noise.

 ·         Assign a ‘safe zone’ for your pet, preferably in a room where they already spend a large amount of time. Once the party starts make it clear to your guests that this room is off-limits.

 ·         Don’t ignore your pet during the party. Check on them regularly and give them a treat if they’re behaving well.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by parties, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser


Destructive or problem behaviour due to boredom


Boredom plays a part in problem behaviour for both cats and dogs.

·         The biggest cause of bad behaviour in dogs is pent up energy. Make sure your dog is being given plenty of walks and mental exercise. This should be in line with their age and breed.

·         Give your cat plenty of toys to occupy them, and make time to play and interact with them.

·         It is important not to scold your cat or dog for destructive behaviour, especially if you don’t see them doing it. Unlike when you scold a human, your dog will not link their action with your reaction. Instead it may cause them to become nervous or fearful of you. If you see your pet doing it, reprimand them firmly and calmly.

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by destructive or problem behaviour, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® Calming Diffuser and Spray, or the Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser or Spray.


Spending time alone


Dogs are naturally pack animals, so tend to suffer more when left alone. However you can make it easier for them. Dogs don’t measure time the same way humans do. Unless they need the toilet or are hungry, they’re unlikely to notice whether you’re gone for a few minutes or a couple of hours.

A good way to avoid making your dog anxious about you leaving is to be positive and confident when you exit. If you fuss over your dog they will wonder what is wrong, and could become anxious when you go.

Cats are naturally solitary, but may suffer if they go from being with another pet or human regularly to being alone. Leave plenty of toys and distractions to keep them amused while you’re gone.  

To help reduce stress in cats and dogs caused by spending time alone, we recommend using the Beaphar CatComfort® or Beaphar CaniComfort® Calming Diffuser.</

  pet types : Cat Dog

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