Pet Health

Why Are the Holidays Such A Stressful Time for Anxious Pets?

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are here and we at Pet Drug Store are
excited with 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.

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.

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
● Excessive drooling
● Excessive panting
● Destructive behaviors like chewing and digging
● Pacing or being otherwise restless
● Excessive barking
● Compulsive behaviors like licking
● Aggressive behaviors

Symptoms of anxiety in cats may include:
● Hiding
● 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.

At Pet Drug Store, 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 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. Oftentimes, 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. We have met some great people who help animals. You can email us here to find out more.

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, calming essential oil diffusers, sound machines, over-the-counter remedies and pet-friendly calming supplements. You may have to consider medication for your furry one, consult your veterinarian or call us for some guidance. 800.930.3160.

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