May 01, 2020

The lockdown pet stress test is here!

The lockdown pet stress test is here!
Dr. Chris Brown

Curious to know how the furriest family members are really coping with the craziness that is 2020? With their former home and sanctuary becoming your business hub and child care centre, here’s my quick and easy stress test to tell you how they’re really managing…

Despite the easygoing attitude they like to project, the fact is pets do experience stress and anxiety just like us. The challenge is they’re not as obvious with the signs as us. But while there’s no chewing of the finger nails or four-letter expletives, they do still say a lot when you know what to look for. And you might be surprised by what unassuming actions actually mean they’re far from content…

So here’s my pet stress test for delicate dogs and cats. Simply add up the score to find out how your little mate is coping:


Giving you the ‘side-eye’ more than once a day 2 points
Regularly licking their legs (not their feet) 1 point
Shedding more hair than usual 2 points
Yawning when they’re not tired or waking up 2 points
Shaking when they’re not cold 3 points
Ears that are flat when they’re normally up 1 point
Tail between the legs when they see you 2 points


Licking their belly or back legs repeatedly 2 points
Shedding lots of hair when you pat them 1 point
Dilated pupils and flattened ears 2 points
Hissing at you for no apparent reason 1 point
Eating less than normal 2 points
Suddenly hiding under beds or in cupboards 3 points
Toileting accidents when they’re normally well trained 2 points


  • 0-3 points: Zero or only mild stress…’Hey all you cool cats and kittens…and canines’
  • 4-7 points: Moderate stress…’Exactly when are you going back to work??!’
  • 8-13 points: ’I’m a Stressed Pet…Get Me Out of Here’

But there is some good news for those feeling frazzled. Not only will lockdown ease soon but generally stressed pets can experience significant changes through some simple lifestyle changes.

Physical exercise (walks, runs and play sessions) and mental exercise (otherwise known as environmental enrichment through games, toys and training) are both the cornerstones of calmness for pets. Keeping a routine and keeping other pets out of their personal space also help.  Just like us, it’s ok to not feel ok. We can all help each other feel a little more calm during these crazy times. We’ll be back at the park and beaches soon!

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