Will your pet be lonely at Christmas?

Will your pet be lonely this Christmas?

Study finds that one in three cats and dogs will be left at home at Christmas

Pet owners are being warned of the dangers of leaving their beloved cats and dogs unattended over the Christmas period. Our research has found that almost a third of cats and dogs will be left alone in the house as people travel to visit friends and family this festive season.

10% of owners will be leaving their pets completely unattended this Christmas and one in five pet owners will have friends or neighbours checking in on their four-legged friends.

Of those that will be away for the holidays, over a quarter of pet owners (28%) will be taking their pet along with them to join in the festivities. 23% will be leaving them with friends and family and 15% will check their pets into either kennels or a cattery for Christmas.

According to the data, a fifth of cat and dog owners (21%) confirmed that they have left their pet home alone over Christmas in years gone by. Over a quarter of pet owners aged between 18-34 say they have left their pet at home over Christmas.

Am I ok to leave my pet alone at Christmas?

According to the RSPCA, 8 out of 10 dogs find it hard to cope when they’re left alone. Cats are usually thought to be solitary and independent creatures, but even our feline friends can get lonely.

It’s much rarer for cats to suffer from separation anxiety than it is for dogs, but our moggies can still become overly dependent on us and suffer when they’re left home alone. Exotic breeds such as Siamese cats or Burmese in particular can suffer from separation anxiety. Of course, as a pet owner, you’ll know your cat better than most. If you have a housecat, it may be less independent than other cats and rely on you being around more often, especially over Christmas.

Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and some breeds are more susceptible than others. Some dog breeds that are more likely to become anxious when left alone are:

  • Labrador Retriever: The country’s most popular dog, the Labrador can be susceptible to separation anxiety. Labs are highly social creatures and can struggle if left alone.
  • Border Collie: One of the smartest dog breeds out there, Border Collies can often get bored when left alone. Border Collies need a lot of stimulation, so can often misbehave when on their own for a long time.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: These dogs love their owners and have been bred since the 17th century for exactly that purpose. This does mean though, that they can be more anxious than other dog breeds.
  • Jack Russell Terrier: Full of beans, the Jack Russell can easily become bored when left alone. If you’re not there over Christmas to help keep these dogs occupied, then they can really cause trouble.
  • German Shepherd: The breed that loves to work. German Shepherds are clever and diligent dogs and as such, they often need a human around to keep them occupied.

You can find out more about dealing with dogs with separation anxiety and what the signs of an anxious or nervous dog are, right here.

Cat lounging near Christmas tree

Some housecats might be more comfortable than others when being left alone.

Will my pet be safe if they’re left alone at Christmas?

The research follows the creation of a new Pet theft task force in the UK, set up to address the alarming trend of pets being stolen. According to data from the Kennel Club, there were an estimated 2,355* cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a 7% increase on 2019. Data from the 2021 Cat Theft report shows the number of cats being taken has risen almost threefold in five years, with a notable 12.3% in the last year.

It’s a prime window of opportunity for thieves, with dark nights and empty houses clearly visible from the street. While the majority of people will be looking to buy a gift for their beloved pet this year, focus should be kept on making sure that pets are safe and well – particularly if they are on their own this Christmas.

How many pet owners buy their pet a present?

The same study sound that 73% of pet owners of pet owners will be buying their pet a Christmas present this year.

Pet owners in the West Midlands are the most festive, with a whopping 84% saying that they will be getting their dog or cat a gift. The Scrooges down in the South-West are the most miserly when it comes to treating their pets this year, with only 66% of pet owners claiming they will buy a present for their cat or dog.