Holidays: the effects of stress on our pets’ skin
For many of us holidays is often synonymous with travel. Our pets, if they are coming with us, do not always seem to appreciate these changes in their routine and their environment, which can be a source of anxiety. For those who stay behind and are boarded, left with a friend, family member or pet sitter the changes in their routine, as well as separation from their owners can generate a variety of physiological or psychological upsets. These stressful situations are likely to affect their skin and coat.
What is stress?
All animals are not the same when facing a new situation. For some individuals, this can lead to a state of stress, with variable and sometimes inappropriate reactions: altered interaction with people and pets running away, aggression, destructiveness, soiling, etc.
What are the effects on the skin and coat?
For some animals, these changes can lead to excessive and recurrent licking of one part of the body (the paws for example), or local or general scratching. Over time, this can lead to alopecia (hair loss) and develop into wounds which, left untreated, risk becoming infected.
What is the best way to prepare your pet for leaving home?
- Anticipate the trip by gradually getting your animal used to a new routine: a visit to the temporary accommodation ahead of time, preliminary contact with the personnel, acclimatization to car journeys, etc.
- During the trip, try to minimise anxiety by adopting a reassuring attitude, but without being overprotective. Your vet or dog/cat trainer are the best people to talk to, to help you understand how your pet functions.
- Appropriate care using soothing essential oils or pheromones may offer additional support.
Dr. Isabelle Mennecier, veterinarian