Reindeer hooves dancing on the roof, a man in a red suit shimmying down the chimney, laughter, music, the ringing of doorbells, and the noise of new toys: it’s no wonder some pets struggle with stress during the holiday season. Between all the strange smells, sounds, and people, it can be tough for nervous pets to cope with the hustle and bustle this time of year.
If your pet becomes anxious, depressed, and stressed during the holidays, we have some tips to help reduce that holiday stress.
Why Do Pets Experience Holiday Stress?
Pets thrive on routine, regularity, and knowing what to expect. And the holidays are all about surprises, days off, and visiting with both near and distant relatives. Plus, you’re probably preparing yourself for errands, travel, setting up the guest bedroom, and cleaning from ceiling to floor. This flurry of change has a major psychological impact on some pets by disrupting their routine.
Some senior pets that have never shown signs of stress tend to develop more nervous habits as they age. When their normal is interrupted, it triggers confusion and stress related to dementia.
What Are Some Signs to Look for to Tell is Your Pet is Stressed?
While some pets make it extremely clear that they’re nervous, others are more subtle about their stress. It’s important to pay attention to your pet’s behavior and notice cues that she’s nervous, uncomfortable, or feeling anxious.
What Signs Can You Look for that Indicate Pet Stress?
Cats show stress by
- Non-stop and over-the-top grooming
- Excess claw sharpening
- Eliminating outside her box
- Lack of appetite
- Tail flicking also shows that your cat may be irritated
Dogs demonstrate and try to cope with stress by
- Shivering or shaking
- Pacing and circling
- Drooling or panting
- Excessive yawning
If your guest list includes kids, and it’s either been a while since your pet was around little ones or they’re just not used to kids, pay careful attention to your pet’s body language. Many kids can’t read and respond to signs like hissing or teeth-baring. Avoid letting your dog or cat get cornered by a child. When unsure of how comfortable your pet is with children, it’s best to keep them safe and sound, away from the reach of tiny hands.
5 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Your Pet Cope with Holiday Stress
1. Burn Off Some Nervous Energy with Play or an Adventure
Exercise is key to relaxation for many pets. It also provides healthy mental stimulation for your cat or dog. Play and exercise work wonders for a restless, stressed pet. Why?
When a pet becomes bored, she can find it easier to focus on the elements around her that are stressing her out.
Exercise helps your pet have a more restorative, deep sleep.
When a pet has bottled up energy, it has to be directed somewhere. With the excitement of Christmas and Hanuka, that somewhere easily becomes stress related to changes.
Fresh air has shown to do wonders for people and pets. So crack a window, go for a walk with your dog or let kitty out on the porch.
So, while you’re out and about, pick up a few new toys for your pet. You don’t have to wait for Christmas morning to let your pet unwrap a few new toys that will make holiday playtime even better!
2. Don’t Skip the Bonding Time: Quality Time with Your Pet Helps Ease Stress
When there’s so much left on your to-do list, it can be hard to justify kicking back and relaxing for a few hours. Assisting your pet in dealing with stress is a wonderful reason to take a break and cuddle up with your best friend.
Your pet needs quality bonding time with you and the rest of your family. While taking the dog for a walk or playing with the cat is part of bonding, don’t skip the downtime.
Watch a holiday movie, read a book, or just sip some hot tea while relaxing with your pet. The peace and quiet are great for both of you this time of year.
3. Try to Maintain Your Pet’s Routine
Make an appointment for Santa to come down the chimney after bedtime. Just kidding. We know that it can be difficult to schedule everything this time of year, but do your best to keep your pet’s regular routine.
- Keep mealtime the same
- Maintain a regular bedtime
- Keep walks at a normal time for dogs
- Schedule errands around when you’d normally be at work
4. Enlist Some Help From Elves, Family, or Friends
Are you hosting the holiday this year or struggling to keep up with your dog’s walks? Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re still an amazing pet parent if you need an extra set of hands to help walk the dog, play with the cat, or stopover and feed the puppy while you’re out for the evening.
If your pet tends to get extra stressed out, boarding is sometimes the best option. Try to find a pet sitter that can watch your dog or cat in their home. When you do this, you may find that you’re less worried about your pet and your pet is less stressed.
You can also ask a dog walker or pet sitter to stop by and play with your cat or walk your dog to help them burn off that extra energy.
5. Create a Guest ‘No-Go Zone’ for Your Pet
A pet Zen-den is a great way to keep your pet at home and provide some solace from the commotion.
Prepare a room that is just for your pet and put a sign up informing guests that your beloved pet is relaxing on the other side of the door.
To make the room extra comfy and calm, play relaxing music and create a nest of blankets, pillows, and comfort items like toys. Dim the lights and close the curtains so your pet won’t see guests arriving. Adding a few treat puzzles or toys can help occupy your pet if they become bored.
For even more Zen, sprinkle some catnip around or try Adaptil or Feliway.
Be Merry and Reduce Your Pet’s Stress
We want your holiday to be as merry as possible for you and your fuzzy family! Give your pet the gift of relaxation with these simple strategies.
If you’re struggling with help your pet cope, they may need extra assistance with a prescription tailored to their needs (especially if your pet is fearful when it comes to fireworks for New Years). Give us a jingle and make an appointment. We would love to make your holidays better by helping your pet de-stress before Santa arrives.
Photo Credit: Pixabay