Top ticks from the experts: How to deal with anxious pets

Keep your furry friends happy and safe when entertaining!
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While playing host may be fun for us, new faces and a change in routine can be stressful for our four-legged friends. 

To make sure your home is a welcome space for everyone, Lara Shannon, pet behaviour specialist, and Petstock ambassador, shares how to be the host with the most while keeping your fur babies safe and sound. 

WATCH NOW: Why you should adopt an older pet. Article continues after video.

Understand their boundaries

Just like humans, pets can suffer from varying levels of anxiety, so it’s important to keep in mind any external factors that may add to their stress. 

“Music, new odours around the house, and mixing up your pet’s beloved daily routine can all play a role in increasing levels of anxiety and stress,” explains Lara. 

Unfortunately, our pets can’t exactly tell us when they’re feeling stressed, but we can pay extra attention and take note of any behaviour changes. 

“Ask guests to not force interactions with your pets, always allowing your pet to initiate any contact or interaction,” advises Lara. 

Just like humans, pets can become anxious in a noisy environment with new faces (Credit: Getty)

Food for thought

If you’ve cooked up a storm to feed guests, its crucial to be aware of any foods that may be toxic to pets. 

“It’s easy to think that feeding leftover foods to our animals is a great way to keep them occupied and get rid of scraps, but knowing which foods to avoid is important,” says Lara. 

Keep chocolate, alcohol, avocado skin and stones (flesh is OK), grapes, fruit pips, macadamia nuts, onions, and raisins away from curious paws. 

“If you suspect that your pet has eaten any of the above, contact your local vet immediately or call 13PETS and monitor for any changes in their appearance or behaviour,” suggests Lara. 

It’s important to watch out for the signs that your pet may have ingested something it shouldn’t have (Credit: Getty)

Excercise before entertaining

It’s a good idea to take your pet on a long walk or to the dog park prior to people arriving. 

This will help boost serotonin levels and keep them calm and happy. 

“A well-exercised dog is less likely to engage in anxious behaviours such as barking or chewing at furniture and will likely be tired from exerting all their energy outside,” Lara explains. 

There are plenty of ways to support your pet when they are anxious (Credit: Getty)

Safe space

Lara suggests preparing a dedicated safe space or quiet room for furry friends to retreat to it if they are feeling stressed. 

“Develop a sanctuary away from loud noises with easy access to food, water, and their favourite toys, treats, and bedding,” says Lara. 

“This will allow your dog to feel comfortable and safe despite the new variables and can help manage boredom.”

If possible, make this safe space a permanent fixture within your home. 

“Pets that feel familiar and comfortable within a space will naturally gravitate towards it when it comes to your event,” explains Lara. 

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