Holidays are full of nostalgia, warm-hearted greetings, and celebrations. But we all know that sometimes stress can come with the holidays as well. If we can experience some stress over the holidays, what about our pets? In our busy lives, we may not notice if our pets are experiencing stress with all the events that come with the Christmas holiday and New Year.
A big holiday like Christmas can knock out your routines which could affect your pets. While some pets may handle changes that come with the holiday, many can react without their owners even realizing it. For example, a pet can stress when you have unfamiliar family and friends over. The guests have unfamiliar scents, and the increased noise and activity can scare them. Just putting up a Christmas tree with lights and presents around the tree could be a stress trigger for a pet. And what about the stress a pet can experience if the family goes on holiday without them?
Whatever your holiday events may be, pets can misbehave due to stress. For example, a dog may begin urinating in inappropriate places. A cat may take to scratching furniture or marking areas around the house to relieve its stress. And if you scold or punish them, it only causes more problems. Our team here at Countryside Veterinary Service would like to give you some tips on how to help minimize stress for your pet over the holiday.
1. Try to Stick to Your Pet’s Routines
Even if your schedule gets hectic, try to keep your pet’s feeding, sleep, and play times as much as possible. For example, if you usually feed your cat first thing in the morning or walk your dog after lunch, do this every day, even when you sleep a little later than usual, or serve a big family dinner mid-afternoon. In fact, after a big meal, a family walk with the dog is good for everyone!
2. Give Your Pets Some Attention
Don’t forget to include your pet in your “To Do” list. Even if you miss a play session with your pet, snuggle with your pet at night while you watch a show or read a book before bed. Studies have shown that spending time with your pets can relieve some of your stress too!
3. Exercise and Play with Your Pets
When pets are inactive, they can become restless, irritable, hyperactive, and anxious. Pets need exercise and play as we do. Play helps to relieve stress. Give your pet an early Christmas gift of a new toy. But don’t just give them the toy and walk away. Play with them. Interact with them as much as you can. You’ll see less anxiety or bad behavior in your pet.
4. Calming Aids
If your pet gets stressed when you have guests over, putting them in a safe room with calming music can do wonders. You can find lots of relaxing music on YouTube for your pet. YouTube has music for dogs and cats. It’s great to have for other stressful situations like storms, fireworks, etc.
Also, there are many calming aides you can get at your local pet food supply store If you are not sure what is best for your pet, please contact us and we’ll give you some suggestions.
5. Get Others to Help
If you have a busy schedule, get help when you can. This could be family or friends, dog daycare, or a pet sitter. They can help with such things like taking your dog for a walk, feeding, or playing with your pets. If someone else gets charge of your pet while you are away from home, ensure they have all the details such as pet feeding schedule, medications, veterinarian number, and emergency vet numbers.
6. Prepare Your Pet for Boarding if Necessary
If you are going out of town and have never boarded your pet, it is best to gradually prepare your pet to be in the boarding facility.
If your pet is particularly nervous or prone to separation anxiety, it’s a good idea to plan a trial boarding stay. The trial stay of at least 24 hours eases your pet into a new environment and daily routine. Your dog will adjust much better when it comes time for a more extended stay.
To help with possible separation anxiety, bring a familiar rug or blanket and their favorite toy. These will help your pet feel more secure. (The facility may allow you to bring your pet’s bed, so ask in advance.)
As your pets are very much a part of your family, we want them to enjoy Christmas too. Following the above tips can help eliminate or reduce stress your pet may experience with all the holiday fuss.
So may your holidays be filled with joy and happiness for you and your furry friends.
Stacey Funderburk and
Countryside Veterinary Services Team