Keeping Pets Calm During the Holidays

a dog wearing a bowtie

 

Ah, the holidays. A great way to spend time with family and friends -- and, if you’re not careful, a great way to stress out your pets! Thankfully, there are strategies that you can use to minimize your pet’s stress during the holidays, whether that’s having guests in your home, traveling, or using a kennel or pet sitter while you’re away.

Our pets live by our schedules. One great way to keep your pets calm during the holidays is to stick to, or slowly modify, the schedule that they keep. This could be the times that you feed them, take your dogs out, or even when the family goes to bed or wakes up. Another great way to keep your pets calm is counterintuitive: keep them active with new toys or puzzles. Preparation goes a long way in ensuring that your pets are healthy and happy during the holiday season.

Keeping Your Pets Happy With Guests In Your Home

A dog staring at a plate of food

If you’re hosting a holiday party, you should prepare your pets for the impending flurry of activity. Your cats may instinctually hide, but dogs may be overwhelmed with the new smells, attention, and treats that they receive. Before your guests arrive, you may find it helpful to do things like:

  • Use pheromone calming products like Adaptil or Feliway (15% off through November 30th!). These products work by releasing chemicals that reduce pet stress levels, prevent fights, and generally keep your critters happy.
  • Give your dog something to do other than begging for holiday food. Dig out those treat toys for your dogs, fill them with peanut butter and/or kibble, and stick them in the freezer. When it’s time for the meal, pull out the toys and let your dog go nuts.  
  • Give your dogs and cats a good grooming. Brushing your dogs and cats, if they enjoy it, is a great way to calm them down and bond with them before the holiday guests arrive.
  • Take your dogs for a long walk, to the park, or have a long play session before guests arrive. Their anxious energy will be muted, allowing them to be on their best behavior for your guests.

Keeping Your Pets Calm While Traveling

dog in harness

Traveling by car or plane can be extremely stressful for your pets. They are confined with little stimulation, and some may even suffer from motion sickness. Before you travel, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your pets stay safe and happy, even on long trips.

  • If your pet suffers from motion sickness, stop by your vet’s office to pick up a prescription. Nothing ruins a holiday road trip faster than your pet puking.
  • If your pet is simply anxious in the car, pick up some calming treats to help with the anxiety. These treats can really take the edge off for your pets, and make traveling a more enjoyable experience.
  • Make sure you’re transporting your pets safely within secure crates (cats) or with harness seat belt attachments (dogs).
  • Have a plan for getting your animals out safely for potty breaks in rest areas. Pack an extra leash just in case.
  • Traveling is best done on a light morning meal. It prevents extra stopping and reduces the chance of accidents while on the road. Every time you stop, you should provide fresh water for your pets.

Choosing The Best Boarding Or Pet Sitter

two people walking a pack of dogs

Sometimes, traveling without your pets is necessary, especially if you’re going far or can’t find affordable places to stay with your pets. Luckily, we already have some great resources on searching for a pet sitter and picking a boarding facility. When it comes time to leave your pets behind, however, you should make sure that you do the following:

  • Dig out vet records so that your sitter/boarding facility knows your pet’s medical history.
  • If boarding, don’t forget to bring your pet’s food along!
  • If you have a pet sitter, create a detailed document that includes the daily routine, and a list of emergency numbers in case something happens.
  • If you’ve got a pet sitter, be sure to let them know where your cats like to hide.

We hope these tips and tricks ensure that you have a happy, safe, and fun holiday season!

 
 
Tags: Cat, Dog, Education, Guides, ~expert-advice
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