Help Your Pet Manage His Holiday Stress

Cat sitting by Christmas tree
Your cat or dog may not be as excited as you are about the holiday season.

I know you're getting excited about the holidays — I certainly am! — but our pets don't always share our joy. For shy, reserved animals, the influx of houseguests, the commotion surrounding parties and the changes in environment and routine can leave them fearful, anxious or stressed. You don’t have to give up your celebrations — but you will need to look for ways to help your pet stay calm and bright.

Create a Calm Space for Your Pet

We all know that change is good, right? Well, our dogs and cats don’t agree. Pets think change is bad, bad, bad. As much as possible, keep your pet's scheduled mealtimes, walks and playtime the same. Whatever else is going on in your household, if pets can rely on getting food and exercise at normal times, they are less likely to become anxious or stressed.

Even if your pet's routine stays the same during the holidays, his environment will probably be in flux. Whether you have friends in for an evening or relatives staying with you for the week, your pets will need a place they can retreat from the strangers and the holiday music. Even furr-riendly dogs and cats can become stressed by too much fun and need a little downtime.

A safe room can be any place your pet feels comfortable. A bedroom or home office where your pet is already used to spending time is ideal. Avoid cold garages or noisy laundry rooms — those aren’t relaxing for anyone. And make sure guests know that the pet-safe room is off-limits to them — it's just for your furry friend.

Don’t wait until the last minute to introduce your pet to his sanctuary. Have him practice staying there for varying lengths of time in the days before your party is scheduled or your guests arrive. Make sure he has water, some toys and a comfortable bed, and if he's of the feline persuasion, he'll need a litterbox, too. Once he's settled in, give him a treat or food puzzle and close the door.

It might be too late this year, but you can teach your pet to go to the quiet room on cue. It’s something every pet should know and can be beneficial throughout the year, not just during the holiday season.


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