There are several new challenges pet owners face thanks to Covid and all that came with the pandemic. The holiday season presents a new set of solutions, albeit similar to the old but tweaked a bit. This post is all about 7 ways to prevent pet stress around the holidays; for both cats and dogs.
Managing Holiday Stress With Pets When You Are Hosting Parties And Visitors
If you are staying close to home this pawliday season, but having guests, don’t forget to manage the expectations for Fido, Fluffy and your friends.
If you send out invitations for your party, be sure to include a note that lets your guests know you have a cat or dog or both. This will not only allow folks who are not comfortable around animals to decline, it also gives others who might be allergic a chance to take their allergy meds or simply ask any questions ahead of time. Include a few words if your pet is ‘super friendly’ or ‘might be hiding’ the entire time. Let everyone know what to expect.
If you have an adorable dog who loves to beg for accidental droppings from the table, try to spend extra time in advance working on his manners.
Then be sure to let your company know ‘although my Poodle is in training for his table manners, his enthusiasm for your presence might override some of his discipline. Please do not encourage him by feeding him. Thank you for understanding!’
HollyAnne from Life & Cats blog reminds her readers about the safety challenges when managing felines around the holiday season. She points out, cats who are stressed can act out if they are around children or adults who are not given guidelines in advance:
“Set your Kitty up for success and consider holiday safety issues when you plan your event. Make sure that your visitors understand the rules. Make sure they also know not to leave food, or drinks around in your kitty’s reach. Remind them about door safety. Teach them how to interact with Kitty if he is likely to join the party. Explain to your children not to chase him, stare in his eyes, or get in his face. A bite or scratch and a crying child will improve no one’s night.” – Life & Cats
Managing Holiday Stress When Your Pet Travels With You
Traveling with a cat or dog who is not used to crowds, cars, and airplanes can be very stressful. Preparation is the absolute best way to get your mindset calm, aware and attentive. Your pet will pick-up on your vibes, so the calmer you are, the calmer he will be. Preparing ahead of time always make life easier.
If you are traveling with your pet by airplane, be sure to get a carrier that meets the airline codes. All pets require some sort of a carrier, and most need to fit in the area in front of your feet. Be sure your carrier is airline approved ahead of time. Consider how much time you need to get your pet in the carrier so you don’t miss your flight trying to get a scared cat or dog out from underneath the couch.
Add your pet’s favorite blanket to his carrier. Include a toy or two and a few treats. You might add one of your t-shirts in with him so he is comforted by the smell of a pet parent. The primary way a cat and dog identify people is through sniffing, so letting him know you are close by will help.
If you are traveling by car, check a map ahead of time for pet friendly rest stops. If you have a dog, he will probably need to get out of the car, be walked a little and have a patch of grass to pee and poop. Knowing where you will be stopping ahead of time will make the trip a lot more relaxing.
Travel cat litter boxes are incredibly convenient! When I drove with my cat Finnegan from Philadelphia, PA to Chicago, IL I brought a travel cat litter box. Not only did it come in handy while I was driving, I opened it up at the hotel we stayed in and instantly had a litter box!
Use a crate or carrier in the car. Unless your pet is a travel enthusiast, it will be best to keep him in a crate or carrier when driving. Consider using a different type of pop-up pet enclosure for your pet when you get to your final destination.
Consider motion sickness. If your pet has thrown up in the car in the past, chances are this road trip will not be any different. Talk with your vet in advance so she can prescribe car sickness medication if necessary.
Managing Pet Stress Around The Holidays When You Travel Without Your Pet
Traveling without your dog or cat can present an entirely different set of challenges. If you adopted your pet during Covid, congratulations! I am sure having a pet has been a wonderful experience. But your pet might be used to you around all the time. Even if you have had your pet prior to Covid, and you started to home office, your pet might be used to having you home a lot more.
Traveling overnight, or for days in a row after being home night and day for months, even years, can throw a pet into a complete meltdown. Separation anxiety is real, and it is happening with cats and dogs everywhere. They finally adjusted to all those video conferences you attend in the middle of the day and now you are packing up and leaving them!
If you are leaving your cat and dog behind when you travel this holiday season, be sure to do a trial run. Start several months in advance and leave your home for a few hours at a time. Work up to an entire day away from home, using a dog walker if necessary. If possible, set up a camera to video how your pet reacts when you leave home. You will want to know in advance how severe the anxiety is ahead of time so you can accommodate accordingly.
If your dog is non-stop crying, chances are your neighbors already let you know 🙂
Managing Pet Stress Around The Holidays With Pet Sitters Who House Sit
If you completed the prior action to find out your dog or cat is really struggling while you are away from home, investing in a really good pet sitter might be your ideal option. My personal preference is having a house sitter, which means the pet sitter stays overnight and uses my home as her home base while I am away.
It can take time finding the right person, and when you do chances are she will get booked pretty fast. Be sure to start researching sitters ahead of time. Ideally, have more than one vetted so you have a back-up plan if your primary cat or dog sitter is unavailable.
Utilize Barkitecture: Design A Pet-Friendly Room
If you are staying home but having guests over for the holidays, consider creating a room that is designed just for your pet.
A pet-friendly room gives your cat or dog her own special space that she realizes was designed just for her. Catatizing™ a pet-friendly room can be a lot of fun.
You can be sure to include a pet bed, furniture, toys and of course lots of treats. Chew toys are important for dogs, and catnip toys make kitty cats happy.
A dog-friendly room is great when you have company because you may have a super cute and young pup that everyone loves having around. Come dinner time, it may be best for the puppy to be away from the food table though. Having his own room will provide the physical separation needed while you have your holiday dinner.
It is also fun to show-off dog friendly rooms to guests. Your dog will also love to give a tour and it will be a wonderful conversation starter! If your guests bring a dog, the area can be the playroom for them all to hang-out while their parents get some people time.
Take Advantage Of Old And New Pet Stress-Relieving Remedies
There are some pretty amazing products available to pet parents to help with anxiety. I know for me, I use the Hemp Oil, medication from my vet and Tinkle Tonic. Hemp Oil is usually for storms, the medication for road trips and Tinkle Tonic if I will be having guests.
Utilizing Friends And Family Your Pet Knows
Many pet parents have family in the area that are more than happy to babysit.
It can be a welcome event for someone who does not have a pet to get to watch yours while you are out of town.
Your pet will love to go to his Grandparents house or cousins to play and have a change of scenery.
I love taking care of my neighbor’s dog because I do not have a dog right now and it is a great way to enjoy canine time without the full-time responsibility.
Concluding Wags And Purrs
To sum up, preparing and thinking ahead will really help you and your pet out around the pawlidays.
Cat and dog parents have had such a change in the way we do things day to day since Covid. Be sure to consider this when arranging for holiday plans.
Your pet (especially cats) take much longer to acclimate to change than you. Having you away from home, people visiting for the first time in a while, and the hustle bustle of the holiday season can be a lot more stressful for your pet than you realize.
Plan, prepare, make the right accommodations and have fun!
Why Is Kritter Kommunity Your Trusted Pet Partner?
Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC. Growing up, Lisa had a Poodle and Parakeet as family pets. She currently has a tuxedo male cat and she has had him since he was a baby kitten. Prior to her cat Finnegan, Lisa had two FIV positive cats for over a decade. They inspired Lisa to invent a cat enclosure so they could safely sit outside to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. She brought the product to market and eventually designed a line of portable catios; they sold on Amazon, Skymall Catalogue, Wayfair and countless other websites. Lisa understands the passion for Barkitecture and creating pet-friendly rooms to enhance the livelihood of cats and dogs. Lisa’s cat Finnegan suffers from anxiety when over stimulated so she has direct experience distressing a pet and preventing stressful triggers.