Are you looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? It’s nearly upon us and we here at My Dog Spot can hardly wait for all the lights, the sounds, the smells, and the company! It’s all so thrilling and fun!
Unfortunately, not everyone feels as enthusiastic about the holidays as we do, especially those living with anxious pets.
It’s never easy to watch our four-legged family members struggle through the holidays due to fear, stress, and anxiety, and if you have an anxious pet, we want to help.
Join us as we discuss pet anxiety and discover how you can help make this holiday season as relaxing as possible for your anxious pet.
Why Are the Holidays Such A Stressful Time for Anxious Pets?
Like humans, pets can be overwhelmed by the sudden chaos of the holiday season. All that hustle and bustle, running about, shopping and cooking and visiting with family and friends is stressful not only to us, but also to our fur kids.
In general, anxiety in pets is caused by a few different factors, including separation from their family, illness, aging, and even chronic pain. Most commonly, however, anxiety is the result of fear.
The holidays can trigger fear in even the most confident of pets, but for pets who already suffer from anxiety on a day-to-day basis, the holiday chaos can be downright terrifying.
But how do you know for sure your pet is anxious? Keep reading.
Here Are Some Signs Your Pet May Be Suffering from Anxiety
Both dogs and cats can suffer from anxiety, especially during the holidays. However, the symptoms of anxiety may present themselves differently in canines and felines.
Symptoms of anxiety in dogs can include:
- Potty mistakes in the home
- Fear-based aggression
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive panting
- Destructive behaviors like chewing and digging
- Pacing or being otherwise restless
- Excessive barking
- Compulsive behaviors like licking
Symptoms of anxiety in cats may include:
- Frantic escape attempts
- Shaking or trembling
- Reduced activity
- Destructive behaviors
- Aggressive behaviors
- Compulsive licking or over-grooming
It’s not easy to watch our pets suffer. If your pet is exhibiting any or all of the anxious behaviors above, don’t worry. There are some things you can do to help.
Give Your Anxious Pet A Safe Space to Go When Company Comes Over
Are you planning on hosting a holiday party at your place?
Many anxious pets will become more anxious when their homes fill with lots of people. For pets who suffer from anxiety, we suggest giving them a safe space they can retreat to while the company is around.
Try designating a room for your dog or cat where they can wait and rest safely and quietly with all of their favorite things to keep them company like toys, blankets, chews, etc.
Remember, pets can become destructive when anxious, so we suggest crating pets who have been properly crate trained. Pets who have been crate trained the right way will actually feel even more comfortable waiting in their crate in a quiet room for the party to die down.
Try to Avoid Triggering Your Anxious Pet’s Noise Phobias
For many pets, the strange sounds of the holidays can be frightening. While there isn’t much you can do about this on a daily basis, you can help keep your pet feeling safe by ensuring he has a safe space to go, as mentioned above, that is quiet and calm.
To help reduce noise anxiety, some pet owners leave a fan running, use a noise reducing machine, or even play soothing music for their pets to drown out any scary or loud sounds that may frighten them.
Be Patient with Pets Who Suffer from Separation Anxiety or Become Destructive
Separation anxiety can be heightened during the chaos of the holiday season and many pets who are anxious or fearful of being left alone will turn to destructive behaviors.
We understand that dealing with a pet who exhibits destructive behaviors can be frustrating, time consuming, and even expensive, but try to be patient with your pet if he or she is being destructive or is otherwise misbehaving due to anxiety.
Scolding or punishing your pet will only make the anxiety worse. Instead, try leaving crate trained pets in their crates before you go, putting pets in their designated safe rooms, or even confining your pet to a safe area of the house using a baby gate.
When you leave, try leaving leave pets with things to do to keep them occupied like puzzle toys, Kongs, chew toys, treats, etc. This will help them to stay active and distracted and keep anxiety at bay.
Make Sure Your Anxious Pet Is Getting Plenty of Daily Exercise to Burn Off That Nervous Energy
Perhaps one of the most important elements of helping your pet through his anxiety this holiday season is exercise.
The holidays can get extremely busy and many well-meaning pet parents find themselves prioritizing differently this time of year. Often times, pet exercise, playtime, and walks get put on the backburner.
However, keeping your pets active both physically and mentally will help keep them from becoming anxious and destructive.
Burning nervous energy is a great way to help them feel better and more at ease during all the craziness of the holiday season. If you don’t have time this season to walk, hike, or run with your dog or ensure your cat is getting enough exercise in the home, you can always reach out to a local pet care company.
For those of you in the Los Angeles area, please feel free to contact us at My Dog Spot. We would be happy to help!
Other Tips on Living with Anxious Pets
Living with anxious pets can be tough, but there are measures we as pet parents can take to help keep your pets happy and healthy.
Along with proper exercise, crate training, counterconditioning, and creating safe spaces for your pet to go when things get overwhelming, you can also try Thunder Vests, calming essential oil diffusers, sound machines, and pet-friendly calming supplements.
Of course, never medicate your dog or cat without consulting your veterinarian first. Furthermore, if your pet has severe anxiety and is causing harm to himself or others, we suggest contacting your veterinarian for further assistance.
Do you have an anxious pet? Tell us some of the ways you help keep your pet happy and healthy during the holidays in the comments below!