Yes, even pets can stress over the holidays. Why is this? 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.
While some pets may handle changes in stride, frequently pets react to the changes without owners even realizing it. For example, a pet can stress when you have unfamiliar family and friends over. They have unfamiliar scents and the increased noise and activity can actually scare them. Another stress factor is leaving your pet behind when going out of town for a holiday. In any case, pets can “misbehave” due to the stress. And if the pet is scolded or punished as a result, this only compounds the stress. This will most likely only create more problems. Our team here at Amigo Animal Clinic would like to share some tips on how to help minimize stress for your pet over the holidays.
Stick to Your Routines
Keep to your routines as best you can. This includes feeding times, sleep times, and play times with your pet. 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 a little later than usual or serve a big dinner mid-afternoon.
Give your Pet Some Attention
Your schedule may have become hectic with the holidays. But don’t forget to include your pet in your “To Do” list. This might be as simple as letting your pet snuggle on your lap while you watch a show. Who knows, this may relieve some of your stress too!
Exercise and Play with Your Pet
When pets are inactive they can become restless, irritable, hyperactive and anxious. 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 anxiety or bad behavior in your pet.
Play Calming Music for Your Pet
You can find lots of relaxing music on YouTube for your pet. YouTube has music for dogs and cats. But you can find music for rabbits, birds, etc. too. It’s great to have for other stressful situations like storms, fireworks, etc.
Enlist Help When You Can
If you have a busy schedule, get help when you can. This could be family or friends, doggy daycare or a house sitter. If your pet will allow it, visitors can help. They can help with such things as taking your dog for a walk, feeding, or even playing with your pets. 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 summary, while holidays can sometimes be a bit stressful, there are things you can do to relieve your pet’s stress which will help you have a better-behaved pet. And that means less stress for you.
Wishing you the best holiday,
Dr. Carrica and Team