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In a mission to get pet anxiety recognised across the UK, Love Island star and TV personality Chris Hughes is lending his support to Ceva Animal Health to launch the UK’s first-ever Pet Anxiety Month.

The aim of the campaign is to educate owners that their pet’s disruptive behaviour can be as a result of anxiety or stress. This comes as new research commissioned by Ceva Animal Health, surveying 1,022 people across the UK, found that 48% of pet owners believe that their pet’s behaviour is related to anxiety or a fear, with 77% of owners saying they regularly adjust or change their plans to accommodate their pets anxiety. 

Almost half of owners don’t know where to turn, resorting to Google for help. Some of the triggers that were said to cause the anxious behaviour included the sound of the vacuum cleaner (42%), fireworks (37%) and being left alone (35%).

#PawsForThought was launched at Crufts on Thursday 7th March, during Pet Anxiety Month, and will be marked by a nationwide campaign that hopes to educate pet owners about recognising the signs of anxiety inside and outside of the home.

Chris Hughes and Busta, his Sprocker, at the launch of the #PawsforThought campaign. Credit: Alistair Heap/PA Wire

Chris, 25, has previously spoken out about his own mental health and anxiety, announcing his role of ambassador to Calm on World Mental Health Day last year. Speaking about his involvement with Pet Anxiety Month, he said, “Our pets suffer with mental health issues, just like we do but not a lot of owners or carers realise certain behaviour is actually a result of anxiety, stress or even a fear of something.

“I have eight dogs on my family farm and I know a few of them have had issues with anxiety and fears in the past. Without knowing the signs, it’s really easy to put the symptoms down as bad behaviour. Our pets are really trying to communicate in the only way they can and it’s up to us to help.”

Credit: Alistair Heap/PA Wire

Chris continued, “It’s really sad that so many pets and owners are suffering in silence and that’s why I’ve become an Ambassador for Pet Anxiety Month. This campaign really means a lot to me and our message is simple #PawsforThought and join our mission to get pet anxiety recognised in the UK.”

Ceva Animal Health are the creators of the Adaptil and Feliway pet behaviour products, created to help dogs and cats handle stressful situations. Andrew Fullerton, Technical Manager at Ceva Animal Health, said, “With 50% of vets reporting a rise in fears and phobias, a campaign highlighting this fact should help improve animal welfare. 

Chris and Busta. Credit: Alistair Heap/PA Wire

“Having spent 10 years as a vet in practice I know all too well how behaviour can get overlooked and be missed. Our pets use body language and behaviour in order to communicate to us that they are feeling anxious and stressed. Pet Anxiety Month will raise awareness and encourage owners to think about their pet’s emotional health.

“In the UK we are extremely lucky to have a strong network of accredited animal behaviourists to ask for help, so don’t be scared to speak up for your pet and get help.  Your vet is a good place to start as they need to rule out any medical reasons for the signs, from there they can refer you to an in-house or local behaviourist for help.”

Ceva Animal Health is hoping that the involvement of Chris will help make pet anxiety the national talking point it deserves to be. Encouraging owners, dog and cat sitters, relatives, neighbours and carers to gain a better understanding of situations that cause pet anxiety and how to tackle the problem head on using #PawsforThought.

For more information on Pet Anxiety Month and the #PawsforThought campaign, visit their website.

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