Summer is rolling around and that signals vacation time for many pet owners.
Majority of owners will opt to not bring their pets with them in their travel due to a lot of accommodations and paperwork needs to be done in order to do so.
As such, their furry companions will need to stay at a boarding facility or a new environment temporarily in order to allow their owners some time off to relax. On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple process: find a boarding place, bring one’s pet there, provide instructions and pick up their pet when they are back from their vacation; but deep down, this can cause a very important health issue to their pet. Pets are creatures that prefer regularity and homeostasis, which means they tend to like constant variables in their life, such as environment, food, owners, etc. Any changes to these variables can cause a lot of stress in the pet causing them to act differently or even indirectly produce further health issues. As a result, it is important to take into consideration how one’s pet will and can react once they are placed in a new environment away from their owners for a period of time.
Between cats and dogs, cats are the ones who stress out a lot more when subjected to changes in their lifestyle. The symptoms related to stress remains similar for both dogs and cats and are also pretty easy to observe. When introduced to a new environment, the first obvious sign of stress and discomfort is that the animal will display a behaviour change such as: hiding in dark places and acting aggressive. They hide in dark unable to reach places because they are confused about whether this new environment and new people are going to hurt them or not causing them to be stressed out and scared. By acting aggressive, they hope that the new people in their life will not be able to harm them. With the changes in their life, it will also cause a loss of appetite due to the stress. The loss of appetite will then result in a decrease in weight and an increase in shedding of their fur.
Both of these issues can lead to dramatic health problems such as dehydration, bald patches, and lethargy, if not handled properly and promptly. Furthermore, another sign that one’s pet is not coping with their new environment is the tendency to urinate or defecate in the correct locations. Cats will pee and poop outside their litter boxes and dogs will have a higher frequency of peeing in the house. Both animals display these actions as they are stressed out causing them to have issues in their normal bowel movements. By understanding and recognizing the symptoms of stress, the owners can then act accordingly to help mitigate as much stress as possible from the pets.
Changing the environment for a pet can cause a lot of issues and stress to them, as a result, it is important to provide the necessary items and actions to try to help them de-stress. When brought to a new environment, it is important to bring a towel, blanket, bedding or something with the scent of the pet’s previous location. The scent will allow the pet to feel comfortable and help them recognize that they are in a safe place similar to their original home, which should then minimize the change in aggressive behaviour and the tendency to hide in dark places. To supplement the item with a scent from the original location, the owner can try to maintain the same food and toys for the pet in order to allow them to have some type of constant variable in their life. Hopefully, by allowing some type of regularity in their life and the recognition of a particle from their old home, it will help them realize that the new location is a safe and comfortable place to be at. In addition to providing the pet items that can help them de-stress, a change in action in the owner is important as well.
When a pet is displaying a change in behaviour during the first day at the new location, it is important to give the pet as much space as possible. Provide an area where the new caretaker will not trespass to allow the animal to have a “safe zone” for them to feel safe. Furthermore, allow the pet to roam around the new area alone as much as possible. Whether this is leaving the pet at the new location alone or even closing off an area for the pet. This allows the pet to explore their new home without having to worry about people trying to interact or harm them. After the pet has examined the new location alone, they will most likely realize that there are no harmful factors and thus hopefully result in them being friendly and cuddly again. If one’s pet is still extremely stressed out after all these solutions, then it is important to recognize that one’s pet may just be very sensitive to change. In these situations, try not to leave the pet at a boarding facility for long periods of time or even allow the pet to stay at their original home and have a caretaker to come every day to provide food.
While going on vacation or changing to a new environment may be exciting to owners, it can cause a lot of stress to their furry companions; as a result, it is important to not only think about oneself’s relaxation but to also take care and help their pets relax together as well.