Summer holidays always catch pets by surprise. Every year, the bright flash of fireworks makes fur babies flee to their hiding spots. Thanks to the festivities of July 4th, pet parents have become well aware of how external factors affect their furry companion’s mental health.
While fireworks are the most obvious stressor, they’re not the only thing pets have to worry about. Many changes to their daily routine can trigger a stress response in pets. Here are the top 10 stressors that could be affecting your pet’s mental health.
- Fireworks: Fireworks can startle even the calmest pets. One moment the sky is dim and quiet, the next it’s exploding with light and sizzling noises. The brightness and sounds of fireworks are very jarring to pets because they can’t make sense of what’s happening outside. Fireworks usually appear around the holidays, making them an unwelcome disruption to your pet’s normal routine.
- Loud noises: Fireworks aren’t the only noisemakers in a pet’s environment. Dogs and cats often stumble across frightful noises in their day-to-day lives. Every pet has encountered their fair share of vacuums, lawn mowers and construction sites. Unexpected sounds can come from anywhere, and every pet reacts to them differently. Learning which noises trigger your pet can help you navigate a stressful event.
- Guests in the home: Guests can easily overwhelm four-legged companions. They might not be strangers to you, but they are to your pet. Inviting just one person into the home is all it takes to send your fur baby scurrying under the bed. Some pets may sidle up to guests while others are hesitant to trust new humans. How your pet reacts to strangers will depend on their temperament and past experiences with people.
- Time spent alone: While some pets value their independence, others can’t stand having the house to themselves. Many dogs and cats experience separation anxiety when their owners leave the home. Separation anxiety may stem from previous owners abandoning them in the past. Pets can also feel anxious if they’re used to family being home all the time.
- Boarding facilities: Some pet parents choose to board their furry friends while they go on vacation. Boarding facilities are stressful because the pet is far away from their protector. Fido doesn’t know why you left, and they’re surrounded by new animals in an unfamiliar place. It’s an abrupt change to a pet’s routine that takes its toll on their mental wellbeing.
- Moving to a new home: Pets don’t like change, and putting them in a new environment is the biggest change possible. Over the years, your pet has gotten comfortable with their home. It’s become a safe space filled with all their favorite napping spots. When pet parents move into a new home, their fur babies have to relearn all the sights, sounds and smells in their environment.
- Changes to their living space: Some pets live in the same place their whole lives. That doesn’t mean their environment will stay consistent forever. Pet parents may purchase new furniture or rearrange the living room. These changes cause feelings of uncertainty in our furry companions. A change to their environment is especially stressful if their food bowls, litter boxes or beds aren’t in their usual spots.
- Other pets: Not all pets in a household may get along. They might become territorial or compete for your attention. Every time your pup ventures outside, there’s a good chance they’ll cross paths with the neighborhood cat or other dogs at the park. Pets are bound to meet other animals, and owners should monitor how their fur babies respond during social interactions.
- Car rides: Many pets are terrified of riding in the car. This is usually because they associate car rides with going to the vet. In some cases, a pet might’ve had a traumatic experience involving vehicles in the past. If your pet hates car rides, slowly reintroduce the activity back into their life while offering treats and praise.
- Stress from pet parents: Dogs and cats are very intuitive creatures. They can sense what we’re feeling and often mirror those emotions in their behavior. When you feel stressed, your pet will probably feel stressed, too. Negative emotions convince animals there’s danger in the surrounding environment. If you want to help Fido feel less stressed, your own mental wellbeing is a good place to start!
Pet parents can’t shield their furry companions from stressful events entirely. Stress is a natural part of life, and with some training, your pet can learn to overcome their fears. Pets may never enjoy fireworks, but your four-legged friend can at least tolerate them!