It’s summertime, and the living’s easy…right? Bring on the beach vacations, road trips, and fun family visits! But be aware that, from a pet’s point of view, traditional summer activities can bring some new stresses. And those can lead to behaviors like cat scratching, cat spraying for cats, or howling, “accidents,” or excessive barking for dogs...not fun for anyone. Here’s our guide to making this summer the best it can be—for you and your four-legged family members.
Traveling with cats or dogs
Unlike dogs, cats aren’t known for loving car trips of any length. But trips that are further afield, whether in a car, train, or plane, can be stressful for any pet. Here are our top tips for the best travel experience:
- Do your homework: However you’re traveling, make sure you know what to expect. Airlines will probably require health certifications and proof of vaccinations. Check which crates are airline-approved (for larger dogs flying in the cargo hold), and which airlines allow cats and small dogs to ride with you under the seat. Amtrak now allows cats and dogs under 20 pounds, and even some cruise lines are becoming pet-friendly.
- Create a sense of safety: Comfort Zone Spray & Scratch Control Spray has synthetic versions of natural pheromones to create a sense of security, so your pet feels more relaxed. Spray the crate or carrier at least 15 minutes before putting your pet inside. And if you’re going to be away for several days, take a diffuser along to help your pet take travel in stride.
- ID your pet: It’s possible that travel might make a pet fearful and want to flee, so make sure they have ID tags with your phone number and/or a microchip. And bring a recent photo of your pet with you, just in case.
“SUMMER VISITORS BRING INCREASED NOISE AND ACTIVITY, UNFAMILIAR SMELLS, CURIOUS CHILDREN AND MAYBE EVEN OTHER ANIMALS, ALL OF WHICH CAN CAUSE YOUR CAT STRESS.”
Putting Out the Welcome Mat
For your cat, who likes to feel in control of her environment and loves a regular routine, the arrival of visitors may feel more like a home invasion than a summer treat. Visitors bring increased noise and activity, unfamiliar smells, curious children, and maybe even other animals, all of which can cause your cat stress. Here are some ways to make her feel more at ease:
- Give her space: Let your cat hide away in an area separate from visitors until she's ready to emerge, so she can approach when it's comfortable for her.
- Help her stay calm: The Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser dispenses a drug-free, odorless vapor that mimics a cat's natural calming pheromones, signaling that the area is friendly and safe. Use the diffuser in the areas where your visitors are so your cat feels more relaxed.
- Play nicely: Give your visitors a toy that your cat likes so they can interact in a fun way. And teach children to be gentle when petting and playing with her, and to not bother her while she's sleeping or eating.
- Manage interactions: Minimize the stress of a visiting animal by keeping them in separate parts of the house, especially when you’re not at home, and not allowing the visitor to have access to your cat’s litter box or food and water bowls.
The Sounds of Summer
Have a dog who’s sensitive to loud noises? Then you’ve seen his reaction to summer thunderstorms or 4th of July fireworks: trembling and shaking, pacing, hiding, or even soiling the house. While a fear of loud noises is natural for both people and pets, it can be especially alarming for dogs. You can’t explain what the noises are or why they’re happening, but you can do a few key things to minimize his stress:
- Create a safe space: Provide a regular, comfortable hiding place where he feels safe, and where he can go during stressful situations.
- Keep him indoors: Some dogs become so fearful that they’ll try to make a run for it, so make sure all doors and pet doors are secure.
- Remain calm: Dogs often pick up on their owner’s stress, so, if possible, try to ignore his reaction. Refrain from comforting him too much, as this may reward and reinforce his fearful behavior. But don’t punish him for being scared, either—that only adds to the stress he can’t control.