Managing Pet Anxiety: Tips & Tools to Navigate the Holidays
The holidays are almost here again! All the flurry of activity related to the festivities can leave us exhausted, tired, and stressed out. What we often forget is that our animal companions feel this stress as well.
The holidays can be a wonderful, and also stressful, time for pets. For instance— longer periods of being left alone, more people (and louder people!) in the home, New Year’s fireworks, changes in their environment because of travel, routine changes because of all the festivities, more free food “buffets” available … and I’m sure you can think of many more.
But the holidays don’t need to cause so much stress. Here are some of the ways you can help your pet survive, and thrive, in these exciting days.
First, you need to know what to expect. I’m sure you know all about your pet—what makes them special, unique, and totally lovable. So, any change in their normal pattern of behavior should make you pause and ask the question—is my pet anxious? Is my pet experiencing stress? What can I do about it? Don’t worry. There are some simple solutions to managing pet anxiety.
Symptoms and Causes
What are some common symptoms of pet anxiety? And, what are some common causes? Some common symptoms include:
- Excessive whining, meowing or vocalizing
- Aggression--harming themselves or others
- Shaking or panting excessively
- Inappropriate elimination of waste (not going outside, or not using the litter box)
Common causes of pet anxiety include the following:
- Environment – sudden changes of environment
- Loud noises like fireworks, storms (or too many excited children!)
- Past traumas
- Separation anxiety and fear of being alone
- Some breeds are more prone to anxiety
Luckily, you’re not on your own helping your animal companions deal with these triggers. There are many pet supplies and strategies that can help your pet reduce their stress and be less anxious.
Tips and Tools
One simple solution is to take some time in the weeks leading up to the holidays to work on basic training and good manners. This will help to reduce embarrassing incidents in all the hubbub.
- Anti-Anxiety Wraps and Calming Coats:
They can work wonders. The steady pressure of these stylish wraps and coats will help your pet to calm themselves, and they’ll look as cute as a button at the same time!
- Calming Sprays and Calming Collars:
These can be used to create a “safe” place for your pet, or to just generally help reduce their stress levels. These sprays disperse calming pheromones. You can also purchase Diffusers which distribute the calming spray throughout the living space.
Chew toys, treat-releasing toys or running fun, will give your pet a way to release their nervous energy. Many dog toys are specially designed to help reduce your pet’s anxiety levels.
- Sleeping time:
There’s also a simple solution for Dog Beds. The owner can leave some used cloth or sit on your dog’s bed (depending on your preference and dog safety) Then your dog can rest more easily when you’re gone, being comforted by your scent. Many dog beds and crates are specially designed to help reduce your pet’s anxiety.
- Cat Hammocks are a great way to give your pet that extra sense of a safe place. A Cat Hammock can be a hideout where they get sensory stimulation, as well as a safe space where they can go in the midst of the holiday excitement.
Cats have some unique needs, depending on their temperaments. Some cats really need their privacy, and places that feel safe for them, especially if you have a house full of strangers for a holiday party! If they don’t have that, they may become more anxious.
Getting ready for the holidays can be a lot of work. From cooking to grooming, we all want to present (and smell) our best. For cats, this can be especially tricky, and stressful! There are pet accessories that can help you in this process.
You can find Dog liking mats to place in the wall and help your dog to focus in a tasty paste while you take care of the bathing. There are other tools for cats just like the Cat Bathing Bags. This bag can comfortably restrain the cat while you can bath or groom safely. In the end, these tools help your pets get through the grooming process with a positive experience.
Are you traveling during the holidays? The right Pet Traveling Accessories can make all the difference for your anxious pets. Whether or not you’re using a crate, make their place in the car a safe, enjoyable space, using blankets, toys, and anti-anxiety pressure wraps to help your pet survive the trek with a minimum amount of stress.
Once you arrive at your destination, try to keep your pet’s routines as much as possible. This will really help them to be less anxious in a new situation. Give them as many reminders (toys, treats, smells, activities) of their “normal” life as you can!
- Separate Pet Room:
Sometimes is best to create a room where your pet can go to be “safe” from too much affection or avoid all of the sensory stimulation. Make this room a happy place for your pet to be in. To make sure your pet understands this room is OK to be in, set it up with all their favorite toys and treats. Spend time in the room, so it has your scent at the same time your pet relaxes.
Perhaps you might put a sign on the door so that guests know not to disturb your pet. Sometimes having a break from all the excitement might just be the best policy and cause less stress and anxiety for everyone.
- Limit Pet Friends visits:
You might also want to limit their exposure to new animal friends during the holidays. Depending on your pet’s breed and temperament, they might feel the need to compete, or feel like another animal is intruding on their territory. Of course, you know your pet best, and you’ll have to decide what’s best for them.
- Familiar sounds while the pet is alone at home:
Some people find it helpful to leave the TV or radio on at low volumes when they are out. Some pets actually enjoy watching TV and having the ambient noise helps them feel less alone.
- Make sure you’re not neglecting your pets:
It seems like an obvious tip, but when we are in the midst of the holiday preparation, this might go to much lower priority and forgotten. Interact, play with, and engage them! Let them know they’re loved. It will work wonders for their anxiety levels.
- Lots of exercises:
Of course, one of the cheapest—and the healthiest for both pets and their people—is some good old-fashioned exercise. Go out and take a walk through familiar neighborhoods, or in the new cities you’ll be visiting. Getting out and about will be one of the best things for you and your animal companion!
- Make sure your pet sleeps well:
Also, let’s not forget the importance of a good night’s sleep! Sleeping well is essential for handling the stress of the day, for both people and animals. Make sure your pet has everything they need to ensure a calming and refreshing sleep.
There might be other medical reasons why your pet is anxious. Be sure to consult your health professional to make sure there aren’t any more serious issues causing your pet’s anxiety. Your vet may be able to recommend medications or supplements for excessively anxious or fearful pets. There are also many naturally-made calming treats that you can give to your pets before they encounter situations that might trigger anxiety.
If there are behavioral issues, seek out the advice of trusted trainers and pet experts, whether online or in person. There are so many resources available now, that ignorance shouldn’t be an option.
So, don’t be stressed out by the thought of how stressful things are going to be! With some careful planning and some carefully-chosen pet supplies, these strategies will help your pet navigate new situations, new people, and disrupted schedules, as we jump into another exciting holiday season!