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Keeping your pets safe and stress free during building works.

If you are planning on having building works done at home, whether it’s just a small bit of maintenance or a full house renovation, you might be a bit worried about how this might affect your pet.

Whilst the dust, noise, mess and upheaval us humans can usually cope with, pets have a much more difficult time of it. They can become very stressed and as they are very good at hiding stress and pain, you may not even know they are feeling this way.

There are good reasons as to why:

Pets can be incredibly territorial, even though they may not outwardly display this, and any building works on you home, may reduce the size of the space within their territory (home), and having strange visitors can leave some pets feeling anxious.

Pets also need routine, whether this is the time they have breakfast or where they spend the day snoozing. Any disruption to this routine increases their stress levels.

For some animals, loud noises are incredibly disruptive, stressful and downright painful. Certainly, cats will feel this more that most dogs (although dogs can too). Not only is

the noise (both generally and sudden noise) scary, but the frequency of sound that some power tools can make, can cause pet’s discomfort.

Q. How might I tell if my pet is stressed?

  • Hiding or becoming more withdrawn than usual.

  • Becoming quicker to anger or less tolerant of people that it usually likes.

  • Visible increase in fear.

  • Pacing, circling or looking restless.

  • Soiling the house or spraying with cats.

  • Going off food or drinking less.

  • Over-eating can be an alternative way for pets to try and relive stress.

  • Reluctance for cats to use a litter tray/cat flap or sit with you.

  • Over grooming fur. Is your pet licking themselves more (most usually the paws).

  • Conversely, scruffy or matted coat, due to grooming less.

There are a few things that you can do at home to help minimise their stress.

Create a Safe and Comfortable Space: During construction work, there might be loud noises, unfamiliar people, and potential hazards. Make sure your pet has a designated safe and quiet space where they can retreat to if they feel stressed or anxious. This could be a separate room or a cosy corner with their bed, toys, and water. For dogs a cage with a blanket/duvet over the top may also help.

Maintain a Routine: Pets thrive on routines. Try to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, playtime, and toilet breaks. This can help keep stress to a minimum, for your pet during the disruptions caused by construction.

Communicate with Construction Workers: Let the construction workers know that you have a pet at home. They can be mindful of the noise levels and make sure that any potential hazards are secured. If possible, schedule the noisiest construction tasks during times when your pet is less likely to be stressed, such when they are out. It’s also important that you discuss with your builder if your fencing needs to be removed and ask them to provide temporary fencing to make your garden secure. No good builder would mind this.

Manage Anxiety and Stress: Construction can be unsettling for pets due to the noise and changes in their environment. Consider using pheromone diffusers (there are many different brands, and each one works in a slightly different way), calming supplements, or consulting your vet for advice on managing your pet's stress during this period is a good idea. The modern medicines for stress and anxiety are no longer sedation medication but effect the parts of the brain that are affected by anxiety.

Exercise and Enrichment: Even with construction going on, it's important to provide your pet with regular exercise and mental stimulation. Play with them, engage in interactive games, and provide toys that can keep them mentally engaged.

Supervise Interaction: If construction workers need access to areas where your pet resides, ensure that your pet is properly supervised or temporarily relocated to a safe area. This will prevent any accidental escapes or interactions that could lead to stress.

Regular Health Check-ups: The stress from construction might affect your pet's general well-being. Keep up with regular veterinary check-ups to ensure your pet's health is not compromised. For peace of mind, pets should be microchipped in case of any accidental escapes.

Be Patient: Remember that pets can be sensitive to changes. It might take them some time to adjust to the construction environment. Be patient and provide plenty of reassurance and affection.

Remember, each pet is unique, and their reactions to construction work can vary. Your pet's well-being should be a top priority, so tailor your approach to their individual needs. If the construction work is too disruptive, you might consider temporarily relocating your pet to a friend's or family member's house, or even a pet-friendly hotel, until the work is completed.

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