Helping your pet overcome holiday stress

By Nicci Lawrence, York Adopt A Pet

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are quickly approaching and while it may be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” it can also be a time of stress and anxiety for both people and pets. The holiday season is often filled with changes in routines and visitors pets are not accustomed to.

Signs of anxiety can vary for individual animals.Take note of what is not the normal behavior for your pet. These include excessive drooling or lip-smacking, panting, pacing or whining. Other signs would be withdrawing or a neediness or clingy behavior, not eating or skipping meals. Other body language to be concerned about would include your pet suddenly hiding, trembling or shaking, tail tucking, cowering, hair hackles up, growling or accidents outside the litter box.

Here are some tips to help your pet deal with the stress of holiday festivities in your home.

Keep routines.Try to keep routines as normal as possible for your pets.While some amount of rearranging may need to be done to accommodate overnight or extended stays from friends and family, try to keep the same meal times, food bowls and feeding locations.

Set up a “calm space.” It’s best to set this up a few weeks before visitors start arriving for the holidays so your pet has a chance to spend some time and become comfortable in this space. Place your pet’s kennel or pet bed in a quiet room away from where the action is. Include some soft comfy bedding and a few favorite toys.

Include exercise. Set aside some time to get in a quick walk or extra playtime before visitors begin arriving. As a bonus this may help your stress levels as well and we all know pets can sense when their owners are feeling a bit stressed out, so do both of you a favor and get out for some exercise.

Occupy your pet. Give your pet some favorite treats or stuff a Kong toy or a lick mat with special goodies to give your pet something to keep them distracted and busy.

Create white noise. Use a white noise machine, radio or TV to help muffle the sound of visitors. You can even stream “YouTube for Dogs” or “YouTube for Cats.”

Include a litter box. Cats who are shy or stressed may not want to leave the comfort of their favorite hiding place to go across the house to where their litter box is normally kept.

Consult your veterinarian. If your pet has struggled in the past with stress and anxiety it might be a good idea to contact your veterinarian for recommendations on supplements or a prescription medication for relief of more severe symptoms of anxiety in your pet.

Finally make sure your pets are wearing collars with your contact information and/or are microchipped. All the hustle and bustle of visitors and holiday parties make it easier for pets to slip out of an unlatched door or gate. Having contact information on a collar or microchip is the fastest way to be reunited with your pet.

We all want our pets to be safe, happy and healthy during the holidays.



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