It’s mid-December and tis’ the season for family gatherings, delicious food, and anxious pets!

Knowing which foods they can eat and which plants are toxic is certainly important, but it’s also important to be able to identify various emotional triggers and coping mechanisms. Just like us, our pets can get very stressed out during the holidays! Whether it be strangers in their house, loud music, crowds of people, or picking up on their human’s stress, pets display their anxiety in many different ways and it is critical to help them feel at ease. Here are some tips to help reduce stress and allow your pets to enjoy the holidays with you:

1. Exercise

Going for a walk, jog or playing a rousing game of fetch releases all the happy chemicals in your brain: serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine! Not only will exercise put your pet in a good mood but it’s also sure to help tire them out! The sleepier they are the less they’ll be concerned with any action going on in their environment.

2. Distractions

Sometimes all your pet needs is a distraction or something to keep them busy. Interactive toys are great for this and come in a variety of types such as food puzzles, treat dispensers, television, and electronic toys. A Kong™ for example filled with some pet-safe peanut butter can keep your dog busy while you focus on your guests. For cats, you could try a battery operated mouse toy that scurries across the floor to keep your cat’s focus on that instead of the scary strangers. If your cat is not interested in robotic mice, there’s treat and catnip dispensers for them, too!

3. Calming music

One of the simplest things you can do is play classical or other types of soothing music. For our Covina locals, tune your radio to 91.5 Classical KUSC. Another option is to play Through A Dog’s/Cat’s Ears music, or put on your favorite soothing playlist and watch your anxious pet fall into a restful slumber. There have been studies that show Reggae is another soothing option for pets! Try playing some songs for your pup and see what they like best! Not only can music have a calming effect but it’s also great to help tune out other scary noises going on in the house.

4. Safe space

If your pet just does not do well with strangers or crowds, it may be best to set them up in a comfy area away from the crowds and noise. A familiar bedroom, cozy basement, or warm garage. Where ever you decide would be a good place make sure they’re familiar and comfortable with the room well beforehand. You wouldn’t want to place your pet in the garage if you’ve never gotten them accustomed to it before, that’d be scary! When setting up a room that you plan to keep your pet in for an extended period of time be sure to equip the room with plenty of cozy blankets, their favorite toys, your choice of pheromones or aromatherapy, calming music, and of course, a bowl of water. If you’re setting up for your cat, having a T.V. playing the

nature channel or videos of birds and fish in nature would be a great visual and auditory distraction. Even if you don’t plan on keeping your pet separated from your guests the entire day, you should consider still setting up a comfy room for them so that they have a place to retreat to if things get too much for them

5. Compression shirts

Compression shirts like the Thunder Jacket™ hug your pet tightly and create feelings of security when your pet is facing fear, anxiety, or stress. These can be used for pets with separation anxiety or fear aggression to help them feel safe, confident, and content.

6. Nutraceuticals

If exercise isn’t enough to calm your pets, utilizing aromatherapy, pheromones and/or supplements may help. Scents such as chamomile and lavender can be diffused to relax pets much like humans. Be careful to only purchase high grade, organic essential oils that contain minimal ingredients and to also put the diffuser out of reach of pet’s paws. Pheromone diffusers and sprays like Adaptil™ and Feliway™ are a proven method to calm pets. Simply plug in a diffuser or grab the spray formula to spritz on bedding and furniture where your pets will be staying. Better yet, use a combination of the spray and diffuser! You can also try some calming treats or supplements that contain ingredients known to create a calming effect (like tryptophan in turkey that makes us sleepy and happy after a big meal). Solliquin™ , Vetriscience™ , and Zuke’s™ are just a few of the companies that make those kinds of treats. There’s also a supplement known as Zylkene™ that can be sprinkled over food and is very palatable to dogs and cats. Each nutraceutical will contain different types of ingredients, so if one isn’t working then another one might. Also, keep in mind that when trying a new supplement, it takes at least 3-4 weeks of consistently giving it to your pet before you will see any results.

7. Pharmaceuticals

If you’ve tried everything and are still seeing signs of fear, anxiety, or stress, get in touch with your veterinarian about trying a prescription anti-anxiety medication. Prescriptions for situational anxiety can be a be a huge sigh of relief for the both of you, especially for fireworks, house parties, and when traveling with your pet. Together, you and your pet’s doctor can create a medical protocol that will work for you and your furry loved one without using unnecessary sedation.

8. Boarding

If you’re still concerned about your pets safety with having other people in the house or if you won’t even be home for the holidays, then it’s best to find a pet sitter or a boarding facility that you trust. You can always call us for a list of nearby facilities that we recommend for boarding. Or, if you choose to do your own research, make sure to ask for a tour before making a reservation. If they aren’t transparent about where your pet will be staying and the care your pet with receive, then that’s not a place you want to leave your companion for an extended stay.

All of these tips can be done in conjunction with each other and doing so will likely yield better results. Just remember to start early and find the combination that works best for your pal before the anxiety sets in. It’s much easier to maintain a calm pet than it is to bring down an anxious pet.

Have a safe and happy paw-lidays!

Love, Jenna