Call Us! Button

Request an Appointment Button

Helping Fido And Fluffy Cope With Seasonal Stress
December 15, 2023

Happy Holidays! ‘Tis the season for busyness and excitement. With all the parties, gift-buying, decorating, and trips, this time of year can be overwhelming for many of us. In addition, some of us are also hosting guests. That’s a lot of hustle and bustle to balance! And it’s not just humans who feel the effects of this busy time. Our furry companions can experience anxiety as well. While they may look cute in front of a decked-out tree, Fido and Fluffy can get rattled by all the hustle and bustle. A veterinarian from Southern Lake County, FL shares insight on this topic below.

Why Do Fluffy and Fido Get Stressed During The Holidays?

Several factors contribute to this situation. First, our cherished animal companions are typically creatures of habit that find comfort in routine. Any changes to their environment or daily habits, such as loud sounds, disruptions, or seasonal decorations can greatly distress Fido and Fluffy. Visitors can also make our furry friends uneasy. 

Holiday Tips for Visitors and Pets

Some pets can become quite upset about visitors. While you may be beyond thrilled to welcome your cousin’s three-year-old son into your home, your cat may be decidedly less enthusiastic about having a toddler around. 

It is important to note that not all dogs or cats react to guests the same way. Some of our furry patients see visitors as extra laps for napping, or additional hands that offer toys, treats, ear scratches, and belly rubs. Others are more apprehensive.

First impressions are a big deal to Fido and Fluffy. You should tire your four-legged friend out with walks and playtime before your guests arrive. Allowing guests to offer small, safe treats can go a long way towards smoothing things over. We do recommend asking guests not to feed or discipline pets.

Ask your Southern Lake County, FL vet for specific advice if your pet is anxious or reactive.

Be Aware Of Unsafe Decorations

Fido and Fluffy are known for making mischief. They often love to play with anything within paws’ reach. This is an adorable way for our furry pals to entertain themselves and blow off steam, but it can lead to trouble. Many holiday decorations are dangerous for our four-legged friends!

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Tinsel, string lights, electrical cords, tinsel, popcorn strands, and ribbons, or any other items with strings or ropes.
  • Plastic bags and wrappers.
  • Objects that are small or sharp, such as ornament hooks, tinsel strands, ribbons, manger pieces, and small decorative figurines.
  • Certain foods. A lot of popular holiday dishes are quite rich, which could upset your four-legged friend’s stomach. Also, many popular foods, such as chocolate, grapes, and raisins, are toxic to pets.
  • Fire hazards include candles, wax burners, potpourri burners, and fireplaces.
  • Many seasonal plants, such as lilies, mistletoe, poinsettias, holly, ivy, and even pine.

Ask your vet for more information. 

Provide A Safe Environment

If you anticipate that things will get a bit loud on a certain night, you may want to put your four-legged friend in a quiet room. Turn on the radio or TV to mask noise, and offer toys, treats, and bedding. If your furry pal is particularly anxious, calming treats or sprays may help. Ask your vet for more information. 

Help Stressed Pets Work Off Their Anxiety

Pets are always calmer when they’re tired! Fido’s daily walks and play sessions can actually help reduce anxiety, even (and perhaps especially) during the holidays. You want your four-legged buddy to burn off that nervous energy in a healthy way, so it’s important to keep him active. 

There are benefits to you as well. You can burn off those rich cookies your grandma made when you walk your pooch. Of course, your pup may also be more than happy to play Fetch with your brother in the yard, which will also help.

As for our feline overlords, you can give Fluffy a good workout with interactive toys, such as a wand toy or laser pointer. (A bonus: if you tire your furball out enough, she may lose interest in attacking the Christmas tree. However, we cannot guarantee that.)

Soothe Pet Stress During The Holidays With Calming Products

Ask your veterinarian about calming products, like pheromone sprays, treats, and collars. Another option is to offer  a weighted shirt. In extreme cases, medication may also be prescribed. Just be sure to put safety first. Never give your pet any type of medication unless your vet specifically recommends it. This can be very dangerous!

Also, you probably shouldn’t wait until the day before your entire family shows up to try out calming products. You’ll want to give Fluffy and Fido a few days to adjust. Ask your Southern Lake County, FL vet for more information. 

What Are the Signs That My Cat Is Stressed?

We like to joke that Fluffy is actually an adorable little murderess, but our feline pals are really very emotional, and can be upset by changes to their domains or daily napping routines.

Stressed out kitties often retreat to their favorite hiding spots. Some stop using their litter boxes, while others lose their appetites. Fluffy may sit in a ‘cat loaf’ position, tuck her tail, or flatten her ears. Vomiting and overgrooming are also red flags. Some cats get clingy, while others withdraw.

What Are the Signs That My Canine Buddy Is Stressed?

Your canine pal may not be able to tell you if they are uncomfortable, but Fido does give off subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) clues. Some of these red flags include trembling, tucking the tail, showing the whites of the eyes, grumpiness, dilated pupils, and withdrawing. Fido may not eat as much as usual, and he might stay close to you. Or he may drink more water than usual, which will in turn cause him to urinate more. Sometimes destructive behavior, such as chewing and digging, can also be signs.

Helping Your Pet Cope With Stress

The best way to relieve holiday stress in your four-legged companions? Make sure they feel loved and safe! (And perhaps a little spoiled.) Give your fluffy pal lots of attention over the next few weeks, especially if they show signs of stress. Hanging out with Fido and Fluffy and taking in a movie can be a great break from the holiday rush. And while you don’t need to go overboard with coddling your pet, there’s no reason you can’t offer some extra ear scritches and belly rubs. 

Dogs and cats will also appreciate new toys to entertain, occupy, and distract themselves with. Some yummy, vet-approved treats will also score you some purrs and tail wags. If you have a cat, you should make sure your feline buddy has a quiet place to retreat to, such as a pet tent or tipi, or even an empty box. (Note: remember to give Fluffy some empty boxes after everyone has opened their gifts.) 

You may also want to look at calming products, such as beds, sprays, or other options. Ask your veterinarian for more information.  

We wish all of you a happy, healthy, and joyful holiday season. Please reach out to us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. As your Southern Lake County, FL veterinary clinic, we are dedicated to providing great care to all of your beloved pets!