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Helping An Anxious Pet Through the Holidays

The Holidays can be a hectic time for everyone involved, hosts and guests alike. This includes the family pets as well! While some pets are social butterflies, happy to see anyone walk through the door others are nervous enough on a regular day. Our dogs are family and that’s why making sure your anxious pet still enjoys themselves with the rest of the family this Holiday season is so important.

Potential Stressful Triggers for Dogs

Having a happy holiday with a paralyzed dog in a wheelchair

There are several different ways the holidays can stress your dog out. That is why it is important to be aware of your dog’s triggers and stress inducers before a gathering. Preparation and understanding your anxious dog’s needs can help to eliminate potential stressors.  Here are some of the big things that can cause an already nervous dog to be stressed out during the upcoming holidays :

  • Extra Visitors (Including Children)
  • Change of Routine – Especially if it results in lack of exercise or cuts in on the amount of rest they usually get 
  • New Strange Decor in the Home
  • Tension between people
  • Over stimulation 

Trying to recognize which of these situations you and your pet may run into while hosting is the first step in making sure everyone has a happy holiday! 

How to Help an Anxious Pet

There are many simple tricks to calm and anxious pet before your holiday guests arrive. Here are three easy actions that you can take to make the holiday less stressful for your dog:

Talk to Vet about CBD or Anxiety Medication

If you have a nervous or anxious dog it could be beneficial to speak to your Vet about giving your pet medication or even CBD to help, get them in a bit of a more relaxed state. CBD helps pets of many varieties reduce their stress levels. It is important that you speak with your vet to make sure this is a logical step for your pet, and that you are appropriately dosing based on your dog’s size.

Getting your pet familiar with your guest and setting boundaries 

cat wheelchair at christmas

While we all want our family pets around the dinner table or tree with us in the thick of the action, sometimes that can lead to incidents because your dog may be nervous or even protective of you with all the new people around. This can also cause over stimulation which can also cause a spike in their stress levels.

To assist in reducing this, if your dog is a fan of people make sure you are still setting boundaries and advising them of your dog’s signals, so everyone can stay as safe as possible this holiday season. If you can have your dog meet your guests prior to a large gathering that will help them to become more comfortable as they know and feel more comfortable with the people surrounding them

Create a safe space for them

If you know that a big group of potentially loud people will cause your dog to react negatively you’ll want to make sure they have a safe and comfortable space they can relax in away from the crowds.

Is there a bed or toy that’s almost like a safety blanket for them? Great! You’ll want to bring their comfort items with them and make sure they feel safe. This may also include creating them, some dogs find comfort in having an area for themselves that they can escape to if overwhelmed. Even if your dog isn’t nervous it is a good idea to have a space they can access if they need to get away from the Holiday crowds. If you are using a crate covering it with a blanket you’ve used a few times can also help calm your dog as it will carry your scent. Dogs that are sensitive to loud noises or easily startled benefit from using a white noise machine, or even playing music or a show in the background can help mask the sounds of a party. 

The Holidays should be a fun and joyful experience for ALL. Making sure your dog has a safe space and that their signals aren’t being ignored is a winning combination to ensure your nervous pet has a good holiday season. Remember treats and extra cuddles and play time afterwards is a great reward after for both you and your pup. 

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