Many pets LOVE a full house. Dogs who’ve been socialised around other dogs, busy kids and lots of activity can usually handle the lively buzz of the holidays. But quieter, more sensitive dogs, and especially cats, may have a harder time coping with extra humans in their space and all the additional activity that comes with the festive season. While making your holiday preparations, keep your pets in mind and be cognizant of their needs and personalities – perhaps implement some of these steps.
Stick to their known routine
There’s nothing quite like breaking a routine to stress out your pet. For many pets, their confidence lies in knowing when they’re going to eat, knowing when they’re going for a walk, and knowing when they will have toilet breaks. Aside from the stress of additional family members, noises and movements in their space, if their routine is upset, it can cause very real anxiety. As much as possible, try to stick to your pet’s routine.
If you’re hosting this year’s family gathering and there will be new people in your pet’s space, remember that your pet can feel overwhelmed, especially if they’re not used to a lot of people. For anxious dogs and quiet cats, this means making one slow, calm introduction at a time, and also being aware of going at your pet’s pace. To help allay their fears and anxiety, allow each guest to give your pet a tasty (and dog- or cat-appropriate) treat upon meeting them. This will reinforce meeting new people with a positive experience, and may even bring your pet out of their shell.
For large pet birds, especially those with territorial traits, meeting a bunch of new people can be particularly stressful. Watch for your pet’s response to the new faces, and if they look like they’re not enjoying it or are having a hard time accepting a full house, perhaps it’s time for tip #3.
Create a safe space
Give your pet the option of socialising if they want to, instead of forcing them. Create a safe space for them to hide if they feel overwhelmed and place their bed, blankets, toys, and food and water there to ensure they have everything they need. For cats, include their litterbox and make sure they have adequate stimulation. Make sure your dogs get out often enough so you don’t have to deal with cleaning up anxious poop after the party. During the festivities, check in with your pet and give them some love and snuggles to keep them calm and let them know you’re always around. Keep guests away from your pet’s safe space.
Get by with a little help from my vet
If you have a really anxious pooch or kitty, ask your vet about some medicinal help to keep them calm, especially if you’re expecting fireworks in your neighbourhood. To help your pets stay calm while the festivities are underway, you can try calming solutions like plug-in diffusers, calming collars, sprays, liquids, and wrap jackets. Many of these products use natural ingredients and are safe for pets. (Be sure to buy the appropriate product for dogs or cats.)
Look out for the following signs of stress and anxiety in your pets:
- Running away and hiding
- Peeing or pooping in the house
- Excessive yawning or panting
- Excessively licking or chewing their own limbs, or being destructive
If the above tips are not enough for you to provide an environment of reasonable calm to your pets during the summer holidays, please get in touch with your vet to find a suitable solution to help calm them. Everyone deserves to enjoy happy holidays this year!