How holiday stress affects pets & how to handle it


Points of stress:

A constant stream of company

Friendly, outgoing pets may experience utter joy because they have an ever-changing audience to applaud and adore them. However, shy or timid cats and dogs may view their once safe haven overrun with strangers.

Poor eating habits

Whether it comes from a hand or it has fallen on the floor, table scraps find their way into a pet’s diet. This usually isn’t healthy and during more hectic days, your pet’s feeding schedule may get disorganized. This will throw off their nutritional balance and they won’t know when to expect their next meal.

Decrease in exercise/activity level

How much exercise have you been getting since the start of the holiday season? Think of how your pet must feel when they have come to expect a certain level of activity they look forward to and enjoy.

Foreign objects

Lacking your aesthetic tastes, your pet won’t appreciate the seasonal decor as you do. From the tall green thing in the middle of a room to the objects under it, they don’t know what to make of it. Toy? Food? Furniture to climb? Which leads to...

Frequent scolding

Many pets like being where the action is. This can vary from you struggling to carry bags of gifts or groceries into the house to crowds of people in the house. Some cats and dogs may not understand your frequent scolding or cursing, not necessarily at them but something else that may have gone wrong. Your pet may feed off your stress level.

Frequent trips

A dog may enjoy car rides, but more often than not cats will be yowling until the moment they return to their safe space. This added stress can attribute to something more internal.


Although seen as a vacation for some pets, other dogs or cats may despise being relocated to a foreign place, no matter how nice the accommodations may be.

How to ease the burden of holiday stress

Routine, Routine, Routine. Keep your pet’s schedule as normal as possible. Stay consistent with feeding times and amounts and be on guard against “illegal snacks”.

Maintaining their exercise, such as walking schedules and playtime, is also key. A tired pet is a happy pet. This, too, works best for people who need to alleviate stress. To save time, sync your exercise time with your pet’s walk. For instance, setting aside 20 minutes to work up a healthy sweat.

Familiarizing your pet with crowds in the home also helps. Bring your friends and family over and reward good behavior.

Creating a room that will be your pet’s domain to retreat to is also key. Equip with their favorite toys, a bowl full of fresh water and some food, and any clothing or blankets with your scent on it. This gives your pet a safe haven to retreat to when things get too chaotic for them.

As for holiday decor, there are a lot of hazards your pet faces. It’s important to know what to look for and how to secure your home. 

If you require that your pet needs to board while you are away, do your research first for a kennel that puts your pet’s emotional needs first. Other options to consider is a pet sitter who stays with your pets or drops in for visits. We also offer boarding at River Landings Animal Clinic.

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