yellow lab laying down with red Santa hat on its head inside house

Dealing with Your Pet’s Stress over the Holidays

Does your pet get anxious or misbehave during the holidays? If the answer is yes, there could be many reasons. Some of the most common reasons are changes of routine. Pets particularly do best when they have routines. However, even simple changes like putting up a Christmas tree with lights and presents around the tree could be a stress trigger for a pet.

Some pets can handle changes better than others. But many pets have adverse reactions to change. For example, a pet can stress when you have unfamiliar family and friends over. New people mean unfamiliar scents. Also the increased activity and noise can scare them. Another stress factor is family leaving for holiday but leaving the pet behind.  Whichever the case may be, pets can “misbehave” due to the stress. They are not trying to get back at you. They just can’t handle the stress. And if the pet is scolded or punished as a result, this only makes matters worse and you’ll have more problems on your hands. So here are some tips from our office on how to help minimize stress for your pet over the holidays. 

Follow Your Routines

As most pets react negatively to changes in their routines, it is best to stick to routines as much as possible. Most important of these is their feeding times. But also consider their sleep times, exercise and play times. For example, if you normally feed your cat first thing in the morning or walk your dog after lunch, do this every day, even on days when you sleep in a little or have a holiday dinner in the afternoon. 

Give your pet some attention

Holidays can get hectic: deadlines to meet before vacation, holiday traffic, Christmas shopping. Your “To Do” list keeps growing. But your pet can’t understand these things. So don’t forget to put your pet on your “To Do” list. This can be simple things like snuggling with your pet while you watch a show or grooming your pet. These “little” things can mean a lot to a pet. 

Play and Exercise Time

Bored, inactive pets can easily turn into destructive pets. Pets need exercise and play just like we do. This helps to relieve stress. This is a great time of year to give your pet an early Christmas gift of a new toy to play with. But don’t just give them the toy and walk away. Play with them. Interact with them as much as you can. Chances are, you’ll see less bad behavior in your pet. 

Sooth Your Pet with Calming Music

There are all kinds of relaxing/calming music for pets on YouTube. You can find music for dogs and cats. But you can find music for rabbits, birds, etc. Calming music is great to have for other stressful situations like, storms, fireworks, etc.

Get Help When Possible

The holidays can quickly become very busy. If you need help you may be able to call on family or friends. When you have visitors they can help with your pet such as, taking your dog for a walk, feeding and/or playing with your pets. Or you may consider a dog day care or a house sitter. If someone else gets charge of your pet, make sure they have all the details such as pet feeding schedule, medications, and ensure your pet will get plenty of play and exercise. 

In conclusion, we know holidays can sometimes be a little hectic. But we hope you find the above tips of some help. When you can relieve your pet’s stress you will likely find you have a happier and often better behaved pet. And that means less stress for you. 

We wish you the best holiday from all of us here at Countryside Veterinary Service.


Stacey Funderburk D.V.M.  

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