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Striped cat sleeping among garland and gifts

The Holiday Season should be an exciting and joyful time for everyone. With cooking, decorating, shopping for gifts, and hosting gatherings, there is a holiday mood all around. However, with all the fun comes much planning and effort, and that often can be quite stressful. Most pets, especially dogs, are very empathetic and can sense the stress and anxiety all around them and this takes its toll on them too. Even solitary creatures like cats can get anxious when something disturbs their normal routine. Our treasured pets deserve our love and care to help them enjoy the season stress-free.

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What may be triggering your pet's stress?

Loud Holiday parties

Unfamiliar people or large family gatherings at home

Travelling on vacation or to see family (regardless of whether you take them with you, leave them in a kennel, or have a pet sitter)

Taking your pet for pictures with Santa

Dressing your pet up for the holidays

New Years’ Fireworks

Long time pet parents may already be aware of the anxiety triggers, however if you are new to your pet, it's important to remember that each pet will react differently to these triggers. Their reaction will be a combination of their previous experience with the trigger, and your reaction to it. When you stay calm it will greatly help your pet to stay calm as well.

Do pets truly get anxious?

Just like us, all pets - from cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, and more can experience stress and it is up to us to help them manage their stress and anxiety, especially during the holidays. Signs that your pet is anxious may be that they are hanging around you and cuddling a lot; and while you may love the extra attention, this may actually be a sign that your pet is nervous and looking for extra comfort from you. Other pet anxiety symptoms to look for include:

Depression and listlessness


House Soiling

Destructive behavior

Continuous barking or whining

Begging for food, or the opposite - not eating


Any behavior that is out of the ordinary for your pet may be a sign that they are not feeling safe. Even usually well-behaved pets may experience a little anxiety when their usual routines are disturbed.

Maintain a Routine

Oh yes, this is a big one! We realize how challenging this is, since the essence of the holiday is not to have any routine. However, even if that holds true for us, it is critical for our furry friends that there be as little change as possible. No matter what, you have to stick to your pet’s typical routine. Take them for long walks and serve meals all at the usual times.

Get Some Exercise

Just like us, pets benefit both physically and emotionally from getting fresh air and exercise. Exercise is a great stress relief for pets. It’s a great way to help keep your pet from getting anxious and should be done prior to any event. Take your pet for a walk outside, play a traditional game of fetch or chase. If you have a dog, take them to the dog park and let them socialize with other doggies so they are not just surrounded by people all day. If you are limited to inside, give them puzzles to solve, a fun dog toy like a ball to play with, or engage them in their favorite game of tug of war (if you have a dog) or catch the ball of yarn (if you have a cat). 😊 After all we can all agree that a tired kitty or pooch, one that has been kept busy all day, is much less reactive than an active one. More fun ideas may be found in our blog, "10 Fun Things to Do With Your Pet in the Winter". 

Give Them Space

Even as adult humans, we sometimes feel quite overwhelmed by large amount of visitors in our "space".  Imagine how your pets would feel with the commotion of all the visitors coming to the house. Before the guests arrive, give your pet a place of their own. If your pet is prone to reacting to stress, have one of our Calming & Anxiety Remedies on hand to help them to calm down naturally and safely. Find a quiet bedroom, their crate, or some outdoor space and surround them with their favorite things:

A cozy bed or blanket



Calming music

We all sometimes need quiet time alone, so watch your pet’s reactions and mood. Respect their need to move away from the hustle and bustle and sleep or just to be alone. 

Plan Ahead

Whatever your holiday plans entail, try to keep your pet’s reaction to the events in mind and plan ahead. Advance planning and preparation makes the whole event easier for everyone. If you are the one planning the party, consider hosting the event outdoors. This gives your pet more room to explore and also leaves them with the option to come inside if the noise gets too much. Make sure that the other guests are aware that you have a pet. If anyone dislikes pets or is also bringing a pet that your kitty or pup has not met before, you’ll want to make sure to make them aware so that the situation can be dealt with before it escalates. Make it clear with your guests to not feed your pet, as many human foods are not safe for pets, and unfamiliar food may cause a stomachache. Setting clear expectations is the best way to avoid conflict or issues. 

Spend time with your pet prior to the event doing some of the things mentioned above in order to tire your pet out, but also to give them the attention they want before you get busy with family and friends. You can also help your pet feel more at ease by introducing them to the other guests at the party at the very beginning. Preferably do this one at a time so as not to overwhelm your pet with too many new smells and too much attention. Even if you are busy socializing, take time out to check on your pet and sit with them for a few minutes so they don’t get separation anxiety and feel abandoned. Pets (even cats) love attention and are happy when they are included as part of the group.

Safety First

Holidays can be a particularly dangerous time for pets. In all the excitement, it is easy to miss your pet getting into some mischief, or even having someone leave the door open resulting in your pet getting out. Don’t compromise on their safety; keep your pet safe and prevent any emergencies by following these suggestions:

1. Keep gift wrapping supplies and decorations out of sight:

Keep gift wrapping supplies and decorations out of sight: With so much decorating and gifts to wrap it is easy to miss that one small ornament or bow lying on the sofa. However, string, ribbons, or small decorations can all be potential choking hazards for pets. Small ornaments can emulate balls or yarn so are tempting for pets to play with but they are not safe and your pet could accidentally swallow it and choke. Glass ornaments can also break and cause injuries to your pet. Tinsel is another common problem for cat owners. Tinsel is easy to ingest, but can cause a host of digestion problems for animals.

2. Prevent Christmas Tree and Christmas Plant Mishaps

If you are a cat parent, you know what is in store for you! Cats love to climb and jump on tall perches, and the Christmas Tree is no exceptions. Too often, however, this results in both tree and kitty crashing down to the ground if the tree is not secured. If you have a kitty that wants to be the star of your tree, check out our Guide on keeping both cats and your Christmas tree safe from each other. Traditional Christmas plants like Poinsettia should also be kept away from pets. While this plant was once considered poisonous to pets, it is actually not life-threatening and only mildly toxic. If your pet does happen to ingest a bit of the Poinsettia plant they will most likely react with stomach upset.

3. Use Care with Cords, Candles and Fireplaces

Electrical cords are hazardous for pets and although these are usually kept out of sight, during all the holiday excitement it is easy to forget to keep these away from pets; especially cords that have shiny lights attached to them.. Make sure to keep cords in PVC piping or special cord protectors so your pet is not tempted to gnaw on them. Roasting chestnuts over an open fire may sound magical, but make sure to keep pets away from fireplaces and candles. Your pet may be drawn to the warmth of the fire, but a real fireplace or even an electrical one can get too hot and burn your pet if they get too close. Candles should also be kept out of the reach of pets or use battery-operated versions instead.  Please see our blog, "Are Christmas Trees Safe for Cats?" for more helpful safety tips.

4. Make your Pet a Priority

Regardless of how many people are going to be celebrating the holidays, even if they are just a few friends or family that you can’t wait to catch up with, or new people that you want to get to know, remember to keep an eye on your pet at all times. It’s easy to get involved in a conversation and miss your dog or cat going outside to get some space or because they saw a squirrel or shiny object they want to explore. Whether it’s your home or you are a guest, make sure to ask others at the party to keep an eye out for your pet and keep all the outside doors locked to avoid chance of your pet sneaking out. It is always a good idea to make sure that your pet has a collar on with your updated contact information.

Be Prepared and Have Fun!

Managing your pets’ anxiety especially during the holiday season will make sure everyone including your pet has a good time. There are additional ways to help calm your pet such as jackets or Thundershirts, pheromone diffusers, and especially our Pet Relax for Cats or Dogs; it’s also all natural and non-addictive.

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