A fat man in a red suit coming down the chimney, loud laughter, the doorbell ringing, and of course new toys that make strange noise: the holidays are filled with reasons for pets to fret and worry. And before the holidays get any closer, you may want to plan some ways to help your pet cope before Aunt Mildred arrives.
Why Do Pets Get Stressed Out During the Holidays?
For one, the holidays disrupt your pet’s daily routine. You have more errands leading up to Hanukkah and Christmas, and planning for the holiday can leave many pet parents preoccupied.
Of course, there is also the revolving door of strangers, loud noises, strange scents, and flashing lights.
How Can You Tell If Your Pet Feels Stressed?
If your pet is naturally anxious, she’s likely going to feel spread thin during the holidays. If your pet is usually cool, calm, and collected, she may feel the stress at the height of the celebrations.
For those pet parents who are unsure whether or not their pet is suffering from stress, here are some telltale signs that can help:
- Non-stop and over-the-top grooming
- Excess claw sharpening
- Eliminating outside her box
- Lack of appetite
- Shivering or shaking
- Pacing and circling
- Drooling or panting
- Excessive yawning
5 Ways to Help Your Pet Cope with Holiday Stress
1. Help Your Pet Burn Off Some Nervous Energy
Cats and dogs both benefit greatly from exercise. Some cardio doesn’t just keep your pet’s heart healthy, it also provides mental stimulation, and provides deeper, more restorative sleep. Pets also get more anxious and restless when stuck inside, bored.
Playing with your cat or a trip to the dog park can help your pet release some pent up stress and enjoy a distraction from the frenzy of getting ready for the holidays.
If you’re busy shopping, wrapping gifts, or cooking, try using pet puzzles and pick up some new toys from Santa.
When your pet is tired, they can rest more easily when guests arrive.
2. Spend Some Quality Time with Your Pet
Pets are more than just our best friends, they’re our family, too. With all the excitement going on around, take some time to just rest, relax, and spend time with your pet. You can relax while watching a movie, enjoy some training sessions, or just hang out by the fire.
3. Make a Schedule and Try to Maintain Your Routine
It may seem impossible to keep your normal schedule, but maintaining your routine can calm a stressed pet. Remember our dogs and cats thrive on predictability. If you’re going to run errands on your day off, try to do it when you’d normally be at work. If your dog normally gets an evening walk at 6, grab the leash, take a quick break from the party (assign someone to watch anything on the stove), and give your pup a quick walk.
4. Divide and Conquer
If you can’t keep up with all the love and attention your pet needs over the holidays, it’s ok. You’ll still wind up on Santa’s Nice List.
Consider boarding your pet, hiring a pet sitter, or finding a dog walker. If you have a caring neighbor or family member that has the time to help, don’t hesitate to ask them. Even if you’re home, pet sitters will come over and play with your dog or cat.
5. Create a Calm and Chaos-Free Pet Paradise in Your Home
If your guests are coming to your home for the holidays, it may be best to keep your dog or cat in a room far away from the noise and guests.
About an hour or so before guests arrive, start prepping your pet’s calm room with comfy bedding, calming music, catnip or a frozen peanut butter toy. Keep the lights dim and put a note on the door asking guests to not knock or enter. For an added level of calm, use Feliway plugins and Adaptil to release calming pheromones that inspire relaxation and contentment.
It’s the Holidays: Be Merry and Reduce Your Pet’s Stress
The holidays create stress for all of us: people and pets. Be prepared to help your pet shake their stress and cope with the change in routine. If you think your pet struggles more than they should with anxiety or stress, please make an appointment. We can help with advice or a prescription tailored to your pet and situation.
Remember that New Year’s fireworks are right around the corner. If it’s time for a refill for your pet’s anxiety medication or you have questions about finding an anxiety medication to help manage their fear of the blasts, we’re here for you!
Image credit: Maximiliano Ignacio Pinilla Alvarado | Pexels