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How to Help Your Pets Have A Stress Free Holiday

Published on: November 26, 2016  |  Author: Starwood Animal Transport

How To Help Your Pets Have Stress Free Holiday.
Getting through the holidays has a lot in common with making a major household move, when it comes to stress and anxiety. That’s as true for your pets – maybe even more so – than for the humans in their lives. But it doesn’t have to be the case. There are a number of things you can do relieve pet holiday stress. You may even feel less stressed yourself.
Cats, in particular, don’t like change to their environment or their routine. Sadly for them, the holidays bring plenty of change – lights and decorations inside and outside the house, lots of deliveries and visitors and ringing doorbells, noisy parties, strange smells, and people wearing weird reindeer hats or Santa costumes. Chaos can make even the most fun-loving dogs anxious, too.
 
Rearranging the house to accommodate visiting relatives, the Christmas tree, and more dining chairs often means your pet’s personal belongings are relocated to some strange place. This can feel disorienting and worrisome to them.

How do you know your pet’s stressing out?

Their least attractive traits may become more obvious. Or they may start to engage in negative behaviors you’ve never had to deal with before. Regressive (or passive aggressive) behaviors such as whining, destructive chewing or clawing, “forgetting” to use the litter box or go potty outside. Overtly aggressive behaviors such as barking, growling, jumping up on people, and resource guarding. Counter surfing – or counter-climbing, in the case of cats. Some pets go into hiding instead.
 
The truth is, in most of these cases, your poor pet is merely trying to exert some amount of control over his life, when it seems as if things have gone out of control. It’s up to you to show him better ways to cope. And show that you haven’t forgotten him in all the excitement.
 
In some cases, you can train pets to respond more appropriately. If that doesn’t work, or you don’t have time, there are ways you can manage each situation to reduce pet holiday stress.

Practical tips for managing pet holiday stress

Beyond the emotional side of pet holiday stress, you want to consider your pet’s health and safety, too. Extension cords, packing materials, wrapping paper and ribbon, candles and other decorations – anything that could be chewed -- all present potential hazards. Is your pup likely to chew the tree or low-hanging ornaments? Your cat likely to take a run up the tree’s trunk? Try surrounding your free with the same kind of decorative fence used to keep pets and kids away from woodstoves.
 
And did you know that Poinsettia plants are poisonous? Keep them out of reach, if need be. Many holiday-favorite foods are poisonous or can cause digestive problems for pets. It’s the time of year when we tend to set out bowls and plates of candy, cookies, and snacks – all things pets should not have. Raisins and chocolate are especially toxic, as are many ordinary “people” foods.
 
Disrupt their routine as little as possible. Stick to the usual feeding times, food, bowls, and location.
If you must relocate your pet’s bed, give them a space they can still consider their own.
 
Your dog’s crate can remain his go-to safe space, even if it’s in a different room. Be sure he has plenty of toys, puzzles, or long-lasting chews to keep him busy when you’re eating or have guests. If crating your dog isn’t an option, choose a room that can be “his” and put his toys, etc. in there. Close the door or invest in a baby gate to keep him separated from stressful activities.
 
Since cats like quiet, allot a room to your kitty. Put his favorite toys, scratching post, bedding, and litter box in here. Most kitties like to play in boxes, you can make the space even cozier by adding a couple of cardboard boxes. Toss in one of your old T-shirts. The familiar scent will add a calming factor to the surroundings.
 
Consider dog training. Holidays or not, there is no reason for you or your dog to endure barking, jumping, lunging, and other unruly behaviors. Your pup will be less stressed all the time once he learns to redirect himself.
 
Finally, there’s no reason to cut your pet out of the holiday fun. Do everything you can to help him relax away from the commotion, but include him in as many festivities as he can handle. Give him a wrapped present he can rip open with wild abandon. Treat him to a little of your turkey, or plain mashed potatoes. Above all, give the gift of holiday love – plenty of one-on-time time playing or just hanging out.
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