Summer Activities that Can
Cause Stress in Pets

Updated June 2023 | By: Dr. James Bascharon, DVM

The warmer months of spring and summer bring a lot of fun activities for us humans, but they can also come with a lot of stressors for our pets. While you won’t always be able to control your environment, you can learn how to help reduce and manage feelings of stress in your pet. 

Find out what can trigger stress in your pet and learn how to help keep them calm so you both can relax and enjoy yourselves! 

What Triggers Stress in Pets During the Summer Months?

Corgi dog looking happy and excited in grassy field

Fireworks & loud noises

While not specific to just warmer months, summer is prime time for loud noises that can stress out both dogs and cats. Noises like fireworks, landscapers, and thunderstorms can be terrifying to your pets; they won’t understand what’s going on and will look to you for support. Try these tips for keeping your pet calm if they get stressed and anxious from loud noises: 

  • Hang out with your pet in a basement (if possible) 
  • Have background noise (TV or soft music)
  • Don't try to force them to endure 

Illustrated silhouette of a dog sitting

Pet Health Tip from Vetnique

More pets go missing on the 4th and 5th of July than any other time of year. Make sure your pets are microchipped in case they escape for a quick reunion. Learn more on how to keep them calm specifically around Fourth of July Fireworks.

Summer travel with pets

While some dogs think of a long road trip with their humans and their face out the window to be a dream come true - some dogs (and most cats) view this as their nightmare. If you are traveling with your pet this summer, make sure you’re ready to help keep them calm and comforted.

For pets that get anxious in cars, consider a pet carrier to keep them restrained and safe. Or, if you have a larger vehicle, a rear gate can work well too and offer the pet more room. Additionally, some pet owners may choose to board their pets, as opposed to traveling with their cat or dog in tow.

If you’re going to board your pet while you go out of town, make sure to bring the following items with you to keep them comfortable: 

  • Food & treats
  • Health & veterinarian information
  • Bed
  • A couple of favorite toys
  • Up to date contact information 
  • Emergency contact information (in case you can’t be reached)
  • Vaccination records (Including Kennel Cough)

If you haven’t boarded your dog before, you may want to do a single overnight stay before a longer stay to see how they do and learn any triggers that may come up. Even if you’re boarding your dog with a pet sitter, it’s worth making sure you know how your pet will react to their new environment. 
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Hosting parties or large gatherings

After a couple of stressful summers, people are wanting to get together now more than ever. This means large backyard get-togethers, dinner parties, and festivities in general. 

While we’re excited to get together with friends and family again, our pets may feel differently about having strangers in their space (both indoors and outdoors). 
Illustrated silhouette of a dog sitting

Pet Health Tip from Vetnique

If you’re leaving the house, try leaving on music or tv. A lot of pets will find the background noise and the visuals entertaining. This can also help minimize any noises that might stress out your pet while you’re gone. 

Leaving your pet to go back to the office after working from home

As people are opting to go back into work either full time or part time, it raises the question - how will my pet react? Your pets are most likely used to having you around during the day and may need help adjusting to the new routine, even if it was your old routine from before you worked from home. 

Your pet may be stressed by you leaving, but they also may get stressed from adjustments to their routine. For example, if they’re used to getting attention on demand, walks, treats throughout the day, etc, a full day alone may be incredibly boring to your dog or cat. 

Keep reading to learn how to help your pet when you return to work. 

Read more about how to address post-Covid separation in dogs here.

General sensory overload

With warmer temps, you may want to bring your pup along with you on your adventures. Places like dog parks, dog-friendly restaurants, festivals, parades, fairs, and hiking trails can all be great excursions for you and your dog, but sometimes that can be overwhelming to your dog. New places, new smells, new dogs - it can all be a lot! 

Be patient with your dog in these new situations (and every time you bring them somewhere), they may need a little time to adjust and acclimate to their new surroundings. Keep an eye on your dog for any signs of stress.

How to Alleviate Pet Stress During Summer

Keep pets active

A tired pup is a good pup. If you know your pets are going to be in a stressful situation - try to wear them out beforehand! Long walks with your dog or some laser pointer play time with your cat can help them sleep through the stressful environment. 

Plus, no one’s going to say no to an extra walk or playtime! 
Woman crouching down to happily pet her dog

Distract pets with chew toys & games

Things always seem better with a chew toy nearby. Try giving your dog or cat something to do to distract them from their stressor. Your pet may enjoy: 

  • Tug of war
  • Interactive/puzzle toys 
  • Fetch
  • “Hide and Seek”

This can also be a great time to work on training your dog! Have tasty treats as a reward and start working on Fluffy’s new trick routine. 

Attention, please! 

Your dog or cat isn’t going to understand that the house isn’t under attack just because someone is mowing the lawn next door. This is your opportunity to love on them and give them plenty of pets and attention to keep them calm. Your pet will look to you for reassurance when stressed, so this would be a great time for some snuggles on the couch. Win-win for everyone! 

Make your pet comfortable & create a safe space

Having a consistent safe space for your dog or cat will give them a place to escape and calm down when they’re feeling stressed. For dogs, this can be a crate or a dedicated bed in a corner, and for cats, this might be a cat tree or even as simple as a cardboard box. 

Help them see this safe place as a good place to go if they’re ever feeling overwhelmed and just need a break. 

Supplements for stressed pets

If you want to give a little extra calming benefit, you want to explore a calming supplement for your pet. Calming supplements can come in either a chew form or essential oils (usually given with a dropper). Look for a supplement that’s packed with ingredients known to calm pets, like valerian root and chamomile. 

Always refer to packing instructions, but usually, pet calming supplements can be given either as needed or on a regular basis for pets who need a little extra dose of calm. 

Prescription medications

Just like people, some dogs and cats need a little help when it comes to managing their stress. Your vet may recommend a prescription drug to help the more severe cases of stress in pet that can’t otherwise be managed. Giving your pet a prescription medication for their stress can be prescribed to be given “as needed” or it may be prescribed for more regular dosing, based on your pet’s needs. 

As always, talk to your veterinarian about any behavioral concerns. They will be able to recommend specific tactics that you can use to help keep your pet calm and reduce their stressors. 

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