Helping Pets Deal With Holiday Stress

While the holiday season is a joyous time to gather with family and friends, it can also be very stressful—not only for you, but for your favorite pooch. Though each holiday (whether July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, etc.) comes with its own unique stressors, many share similar traits. Making simple adjustments during times of celebration can help reduce your dog’s stress and keep him safe amidst the holiday hustle an bustle.

Quiet Time

Whether it's trick-or-treaters at your door or a whirlwind of friends and relatives coming over for a festive gathering, the increased number of visitors may intimidate a shy dog or over-stimulate an excited one. Provide a quiet room or location where the dog can retreat when he needs to. With the constant opening and closing of doors during Halloween, consider keeping your dog secluded in another room to reduce the risk of his sneaking past and getting lost. For holidays on which fireworks or other loud noises are possible, consider finding a quiet room to give your dog a safe retreat from the noise. The change in your dog’s normal routine can cause stress, as well, so try to keep his schedule as close to normal as possible.

Oh Look, Something Shiny

With the holidays comes a variety of different decoration options, including Christmas trees, burning candles, garlands, tinsel, and bright plants. When you introduce these decorations into your dog’s environment, it is natural for him to explore. Unfortunately, that innocent exploration can lead to health risks, such as intestinal blockage from eating items, poisoning from toxic plants or chemically treated Christmas tree water and cuts from broken ornaments. To reduce these risks, keep decorations out of your dog's reach, choose plants that are not toxic and consider flameless candles. Ensure your dog has fresh water available at all times to reduce the temptation of drinking the Christmas tree water.

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

With Halloween, costumes are commonplace, even for dogs. During other holidays, dressing up or wearing holiday costumes is also common. While your dog may look cute sporting that hot dog costume or wearing those reindeer antlers, not all dogs are comfortable with this. If your dog experiences discomfort or the costume hinders movement, let him wear it for a quick photo op and then remove it.

Just a Tiny Bite Won’t Hurt

The holidays are times for sweet treats, candies and chocolate. While you may stress about the possibility of adding a few inches to your waistline, they can cause potentially fatal complications for your dog. Do not leave treats or candies where dogs can access them easily. Ask your guests not to feed people food to your dog when they visit as new foods can lead to stomach upset.

By Deborah Lundin

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References

American Humane Association: Holiday Issues
PetMD: Tips for Dealing With Holiday Stress for You and Your Pet

About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.