The holiday season is upon us, and while it’s a very exciting time for people, it can be very stressful for our pets. Many pets are well-suited to welcome the extra friends and attention that come with holiday hosting; however, others don’t handle it so well. If your pet is sensitive to too much stimulation, follow our tips to ensure your pet has a stress-free Christmas.
STRESS RELIEF FOR DOGS
Extra Activity: A tired dog is a less-stressed dog. De-stress your dog before guests arrive by taking him for extra-long walks, or visit a leash-free park. A dog with less pent up energy is less likely to become overwhelmed.
Give them Space: Dogs feel safest when they have their own special, safe space. It can be a crate, a bed, or piece of furniture in a private area in your home. Make sure it is in a room that is easily accessible for your pooch, yet is off-limits to guests.
Treats: Providing your guests with healthy treats to offer your dog may help them to build trust, and can also help them relax around new faces. Using treats as a means of positive behavioural misdirection is an invaluable training tool. We recommend using healthy training treats, as many are small, tasty, and low in calories.
Consider Wearable Items: Compression garments have become increasing popular over the last several years. Thundershirt vests gently apply equal pressure to your dog’s torso. This creates a calming effect similar to swaddling an infant. The thundercap works similar to a horse blinder, giving your dog only very limited views of what is directly in front of them, reducing opportunities for over-stimulation. Compression garments like these are often recommended by veterinarians and dog trainers.
Homeopathic Remedies: There are several effective options on the market for naturally de-stressing your pet. Usually available in liquid, tablet, or plug-in diffuser form, these remedies help calm your pet without the unwanted drowsiness that often comes with prescription calmers.
STRESS RELIEF FOR CATS
Litterbox Access: Ensure your cat can access their litterbox without having to travel from their favourite sleeping spot through swarms of potentially intimidating guests. Cats may leave embarrassing deposits in other areas of your home if they’re afraid to access the litter box.
Move their Food and Water: If your cat usually eats in the kitchen or any high-traffic area in the home, consider moving their dishes away from guests. Cats can be very particular with their food and water. Familiarize your cat with her new temporary food and water location prior to guests arriving.
Catnip: Catnip is very appealing to cats, and provides a safe and engaging activity that will reduce stress and keep kitty focussed on something positive. Whether it’s a stuffed catnip toy, a catnip spray to enhance other toys or scratchers, or a loose pile of catnip on the floor, catnip is an effective means of positive behavioural misdirection.
Children: Children can be unnecessarily clingy and rough with pets, especially pets that aren’t their own. Please keep careful watch of how guests (especially children) interact with your pets. Limiting the access visiting children have to your pets will help reduce pet stress levels.
STRESS RELIEF FOR FISH AND SMALL ANIMALS
While it may be common sense not to tap on the fish tank or shake the cage, children without pets may not always understand why. Ensure that any children interacting with your small animals or fish is always supervised.
In order for our pets to have a low-stress holiday season, it is important to plan ahead, offer safe spaces, and monitor all levels of interaction. Above anything else, it is important that they have fun, too!
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is Vice President of Canadian Pet Connection, a family owned and operated business located in Meaford, Ontario. He has over twenty years experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour and lifestyle. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.com.