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Helping Fido And Fluffy Cope With Seasonal Stress

December 15, 2023

Season’s Greetings! The holiday season is officially in full swing. This can be a busy and overwhelming time for many of us. Between attending festivities, shopping, decorating, and traveling, lots of us also have the added responsibility of hosting guests. That’s a lot of extra things to juggle!  It’s not just humans who feel the strain during this time. Our four-legged companions also experience anxiety. While Fido and Fluffy might look cute posing in front of a decorated tree, all the hustle and bustle can cause them some stress, which can take a toll on their well-being. A Brampton, ON veterinarian offers some insight on this below.

Why Do Fido And Fluffy Get Stressed During The Holidays?

There are a few things at play here. For one, our beloved furry companions are often creatures of habit, who tend to thrive on routine. Fido and Fluffy can be quite upset by changes in their surroundings or routines, loud noises and commotions, or even decorations, like that inflatable snowman in the yard, or the singing reindeer on your neighbor’s roof. Even visitors can make some of our four-legged buddies quite uneasy. You may be absolutely delighted to spend time with your cousin’s three-year-old, but your cat may not be so thrilled about suddenly having a tiny human around.

How Can I Soothe My Dog Or Cat On New Year’s Eve? 

Sadly, we often see an increase in missing pet reports after New Year’s Eve. The commotion, music, and fireworks can be really unsettling for animals. Fido and Fluffy are quite scared of flashes and bangs, and may run away out of fear. Take extra precautions as we say farewell to 2023 and usher in 2024. 

How to Help My Visitors And My Pets Get Along Over the Holidays

If you’re planning to host guests in the next few weeks, you’ll want to take steps to help your furry friend feel comfortable. Some pets get quite upset about visitors. Of course, this isn’t an issue with all dogs and cats. Some of our furry patients see guests as extra laps for napping, or additional hands that offer toys, treats, ear scratches, and belly rubs. Others are more nervous. 

First impressions are very important here. Before your guests arrive, tire your four-legged friend out with a good play session. If Fido or Fluffy is extremely anxious, and/or is reactive, ask your Brampton, ON vet for specific advice.

You can also help ease things a bit by letting your guests offer your pets vet-approved treats. Use small ones, so you don’t overfeed your furry pal. 

How Do I Make Sure My Holiday Decorations Are Safe For Pets? 

Fido and Fluffy are known for making mischief. They often love to play with anything within paws’ reach. This is an adorable way for our furry pals to soothe themselves, but it can get them into trouble. Many of those beautiful holiday decorations are dangerous for them.

Watch out for these things:

  • Items with strings or ropes, such as tinsel, string lights, electrical cords, tinsel, popcorn strands, and ribbons.
  • Plastic bags and wrappers.
  • Anything small or sharp, such as ornaments, ornament hooks, tinsel strands, ribbons, manger pieces, and figurines.
  • Food can be a concern as well. A lot of popular holiday dishes are quite rich. They could upset your four-legged friend’s stomach, which is the last thing you want. Also, many popular foods, including chocolate, grapes, and raisins, are toxic to our furry friends.. 
  • Candles, wax burners, potpourri burners, and fireplaces: any type of flame is a potential hazard.
  • Poinsettias, holly, and ivy and other seasonal plants. Many of these are toxic to Fido and Fluffy.

Offer A Safe Space To Stressed Pets

On nights when you are expecting things to get a bit loud, you may want to set your four-legged buddy up in a quiet spot, such as a back room. Offer toys, treats, and bedding, and turn a radio or TV on to mask any noise. If your furry bff is particularly anxious, calming treats or sprays may help. (More on that later.) 

Help Stressed Pets Burn Off That Angst

It’s important to keep your little (or not little) pal active, even during the holidays. Fido’s daily walks and play sessions can actually help reduce anxiety. Pets are always calmer when they’re tired. You want your four-legged buddy to work off its nervous energy in a healthy way. (Plus, walking your canine buddy can help you burn off those rich cookies your grandma made.)

As to our feline overlords, well, you can give Fluffy a good workout with interactive toys, such as a wand toy or laser pointer. (A bonus: if you tire your kitty out enough, she might lose interest in attacking the Christmas tree. However, we’re not promising anything on that one.)

Can Calming Products Soothe Holiday Stress In Pets?

Ask your Brampton, ON veterinarian about calming products, such as pheromone sprays, treats, and collars. Weighted shirts are another possibility. If the condition is severe, medication may also be prescribed. However, you should never give your pet any type of medication unless your veterinarian recommends it specifically. This can be very dangerous!

We also wouldn’t advise waiting until the day before your entire family shows up to try products. It’s important to know how your four-legged pal will react. 

How Do I Know If My Cat Is Stressed? 

Fluffy is actually very emotional as well, and can get upset by changes to her domain or her daily routine. 

Kitties often retreat to their favorite hiding places when they are feeling anxious. Fluffy may sit in a ‘cat loaf’ position, tuck her tail, or flatten her ears. Some kitties stop using their litter boxes, while others lose their appetites. In extreme cases, stressed cats may vomit or overgroom themselves. Your furry buddy may become a cuddle bug, or not want to be touched at all … it depends on the kitty. Just make sure your feline buddy has a quiet spot to retreat to. 

How Can I Tell If My Canine Buddy Is Stressed? 

Fido may not be able to tell you if he is uncomfortable, but he does give off subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) clues about how he’s feeling. 

In addition to excessive panting, Fido may drool, pace, or lick himself obsessively. You may also notice him drinking more water than usual, which will in turn cause him to urinate more. He may also whine, bark, howl, or growl, or he may just bark more, less, or even differently than usual. Other red flags include trembling, tucking the tail, dilated pupils, showing the whites of the eyes, grumpiness, and withdrawing. Fido may not be eating as much as usual, and he might stay close to you. 

Purrs And Tail Wags

The best ways to alleviate holiday stress in our four-legged companions? Make sure they feel loved and safe! (And perhaps a tiny bit spoiled.) Pay extra attention to your fuzzy pal over the next few weeks, especially if they show signs of stress. New toys can also help occupy, entertain, and distract your dog or cat. (Fido and Fluffy also won’t mind some yummy treats, or perhaps a new bed.) 

Happy Holidays from Dixie Road! Feel free to contact us for all of your beloved pet’s veterinary care needs. As your Brampton, ON veterinary clinic, we are dedicated to offering great care!