7 ways to reduce pet stress while you’re away

If you’re a pet owner, going away for a day or more can be a stressful business and not just for you! Pets dislike it when we go away and break their normal routine. Here, we offer our top tips to ensure peace of mind, whether your pet is home alone or heading to a boarding house…

1. Ask questions

Booking your pet into a kennel or cattery needn’t be stressful if you ask the right questions, says Dr Suzanne Moyes MVB MRCVS, Technical Director at Burgess Pet Care: “I’d ask the questions: Are you insured? Do you ensure all pets are vaccinated in the kennels? What is the procedure if my pet becomes ill while I’m away and which vet do you contact? Will my pet be exercised during their stay – where, how often and for how long? May I visit before I book? How often are the facilities cleaned?” Only confirm your booking once you’re happy with all of the answers.

2. Have a trial run

Most good kennel or cattery owners will offer you a visit to their premises before you book.  “A trial day is also usually really helpful,” says Dr Moyes. “You will get a feel for the kennels, the team who work there get to know your pet a little, and your pet should hopefully have a positive experience.”

Likewise, if you’re hiring a pet sitter, invite them for a home visit before you go away, to ensure your pet is comfortable around them and they have a rapport.

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3. Home comforts

If your cat or dog is particularly timid or prone to stress, the owner of the cattery or kennel may be able to house them in a quieter part of the building. “Lots of kennels and catteries use Adaptil or Feliway to help reduce stress,” says Dr Moyes. “I also recommend that you send them there with something familiar to them, like a favourite toy or blanket, to help them feel at home.”

4. A beady eye

If your pet is staying at home and you’ve only got a pet sitter popping in once or twice a day to check in, you can enhance your peace of mind by setting up a pet camera.

The Furbo Dog Camera, for example, priced £239, lets you see, talk and even throw treats to your dog. If your dog barks, it sends an alert to your phone, so you can check in and see what’s wrong. It’s even got night vision, so you can see them in the dark.

5. Keep it clean

If you’re a cat owner, you’ll know from your feline friend’s behaviour that there are few things more stressful to them than a dirty litter box, but this can be difficult to manage if you leave them at home, alone all day.

Well, worry no more, because the Litter Robot is a handy, self-cleaning litter tray, that separates the cat mess from the clean litter once your cat has exited the tray.

Being fairly new, they’re currently pretty pricey at over £460 a pop, but we’re sure they’ll drop in price as this type of tech becomes more readily available on the market.

6. Radio ga-ga

A 2017 study from the Scottish SPCA found that dogs are soothed by different types of music, so much so that the SSPCA decided last year to invest in sound systems for all of its kennels.

So, if you’re going out for the day consider leaving a radio or TV on to keep your pet entertained. Just be aware that cats and dogs are much more sensitive to sound than humans, so keep the volume low.

7. Saying farewell

Although you might find it painful saying farewell to your beloved doggy or moggy when you go away, try not to let on to them how much it’s affecting you. Animals can pick up on your stress and negative emotions, so say a quick goodbye and try not to make too much fuss.