It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but for our pets it can sometimes feel like the most stressful time of the year. Family gatherings, vacations, colder weather and just general busy-ness can create a challenging environment for our pets.
To help our four-legged friends cope better during the holidays here are a few tips:
- Decrease stimuli. If your pets do not like loud noises or unfamiliar people, then do not subject them to the 40 house guests that will be coming over for dinner. Instead, keep them safely tucked away in a quiet room or cozy kennel. You can play classical music or turn on the television to further drown out the commotion coming from all of the “unwanted guests.”
- A tired dog is a good dog. During the holidays, it is important to make the time to continue the daily exercise routine for our pets. It may be especially important for those pets that have difficulty with the challenges of the holidays. It can be useful to fit in some extra exercise on the days prior to and the morning of a big holiday gathering, so that your pet will be more fulfilled. This may help calm them down and act less concerned by all of the commotion.
- Avoid feeding “people food” to your dog. While your pet may be hoping to sample something off your plate at your upcoming gathering, sudden changes to your dog’s diet can cause stomach upset or worse. Certain foods like onions (don’t forget about onion powder!), grapes/raisins, chocolate, etc. can be toxic. Getting into something that is not normally in your dog’s diet can cause gastrointestinal issues that are sure to make the holidays less pleasant for everyone.
- Make sure your dog has identification.Things happen and the busy holiday season is a prime time for the door to be left open or the gate latch to not fully close. For this upcoming holiday, and all year round, your dog should have a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags with your phone number, a license, and proof of rabies vaccination. Because collars and tags can fall off, make sure your dog has a permanent ID with a microchip. Keep your contact information current with your recovery service provider.
- Mimic the comforts of home. If you are boarding your dog during the holidays, it’s always a good idea to try and bring some comforts from home to ensure they have as positive an experience as possible. Packing their own food, favorite toys and extra bedding are some examples of things that might make the boarding process smoother. For additional tips around boarding, click here.
- Use a natural calming supplement. For dogs who struggle with disturbances to their environment such as travelling, loud noises, boarding, or hosting a large family gathering, try a calming behavioral supplement such as Zylkene®. Zylkene is a veterinary formulated product containing a unique, milk-derived ingredient that promotes calmness and relaxation without causing drowsiness. For short-term therapy, begin administration 1-2 days ahead of the anticipated event (such as a holiday party.)
*This article does not replace advice from your veterinarian. If you are worried about your pet’s health or behavior always reach out to your veterinarian.