8 Ways the Holidays Can Stress Out Your Pet

8 Ways the Holidays Can Stress Out Your Pet

Does the sound of holiday music make you feel both excited and stressed? You’re not alone!

A survey found that 62% of Americans feel elevated stress levels during the holidays. While many people talk about holiday stress, it’s easy to forget that your pets can feel increased stress during the holidays too.

Although you may have noticed that your pets exhibit different behavior around the holiday season, you might not know what causes it or how to help them.

Here, we go over some of the common pet stressors and give you tips on reducing your pet’s holiday stress.

Look around the house below and click the dots to uncover what holiday stressors are lurking from room to room. Then, keep reading to learn how you can avoid pet stressors this holiday season!

A family sits around a dinner table with their dog looking on

1. Extra Household Activity

During the holidays, it’s typical for there to be extra household activity due to things like cooking, wrapping presents, decorating, and hosting parties.

The increase and variety of household activities can negatively impact your pet’s stress levels, but there are ways to combat these stressors.

Keep your pet in mind when you get busy decorating, wrapping gifts, or cooking. All of this bustling about can cause your dog or cat unwanted stress. Take a moment to reward your pet with extra treats. CBD treats for dogs or CBD cat treats are a nice way to positively reinforce good behavior and promote your pet’s sense of calm and well-being.

If you know you will be having people over to your house on a certain day, you can slowly acclimate your pet to increased foot traffic ahead of time. Start with one new person to allow your pet to become comfortable with the addition. Have your guest offer your pet treats so your pet associates guests with positive experiences.

2. Unfamiliar Faces

Unfamiliar faces coming in and out of the home can be stressful for your pet. It may result in pets acting aggressively or hiding if they aren’t used to seeing someone in the house.

Pets may also be stressed by the increased presence of delivery drivers (hello, Amazon) as you receive extra packages.

If you’re having someone new over to your home, try separating your pet from guests until everyone is settled in. Once you invite your pet to join you and your guests, allow your pet to make the first move. Letting them warm up to new faces on their terms helps ease any nervousness or fear.

In cases where your pet continues to struggle with meeting new people, try setting up a pet-friendly room where your dog or cat can stay while you have visitors. Take time to prepare the room for your four-legged companion so it feels comfortable and tranquil.

A husky looks very startled against a yellow background

3. Excess Noise

The holidays may fill your home with additional noises such as guests’ voices, music, doorbells, children, fireworks outside, and more. This can put stress on your pet if they are sensitive to noise.

The best thing you can do for them is to control the noises that you can and anticipate and prepare for the noises that you cannot control.

If you decide to turn on music, be mindful of the volume. Dog ears are much more sensitive than human ears and although you may enjoy turning up the volume during your favorite song, your pet may find this extremely uncomfortable.

Fireworks are another loud noise that we may hear as we ring in the New Year. While this seems like a festive show to most people, anyone with a pet knows how stressful the booming sounds can be to their loveable companions.

Knowing how to calm down a dog during fireworks is important for pet owners. You might try turning on the television to create ambient noise and attempt to mask the loud bangs. Calming drops for dogs are another good choice to promote your pet’s relaxation and encourage lower stress levels.

4. New Smells

The holidays can fill your home with unfamiliar smells too. From food and guests’ perfume to candles and room sprays, these new scents can put stress on your pets if they are sensitive to smells. A scent that seemingly creates a cozy ambiance for you and your guests may cause your pet to feel unwell.

Consider your dog or cat before you light a heavily scented candle or inundate your living room with fragranced room spray. If you plan on cooking a lot of aromatic foods, be sure your home is properly ventilated. When it comes to smells, dog noses are tens of thousands of times as sensitive as your own. Do your best to limit stress-inducing scents.

A grey dog looks longingly at a cooked turkey

5. Enticing Food

The holidays are full of feasts, which are enticing for your pet, but not exactly healthy for them. While it’s acceptable to treat your pet to a small portion of certain table scraps, owners should be wary of putting added stress on their furry friend’s tummy.

Instead of serving your pup bites of your rich meal, try indulging them with something special that is formulated just for them. CBD peanut butter for dogs is a harm-free treat that dogs love. Your pup will thank you when they feel relaxed and calm instead of stressed out with a stomach ache.

With extra cooking going on, it’s also important to keep food out of reach. Pets can choke on bones or consume something toxic to them such as chocolate if left unsupervised. If you notice your dog wants to participate in holiday treat eating, learn how to make CBD dog treats you can share with your pet worry-free.

6. Holiday Decor

The holidays can fill your home with unfamiliar decor like twinkling lights and a Christmas tree, which can put stress on your pet if they are sensitive to light or sound. Decor can also pose a danger to your pet with some holiday decorations being hazardous to animals.

Tinsel looks great on the Christmas tree, but if your pet eats tinsel, it can lead to serious digestive issues. Find other festive decorations that aren’t as threatening to your pet. The cords of twinkling lights can be tempting as chew toys so be sure to keep them out of reach or be present when your pet is near them. Christmas trees are also prone to tipping over when a pet tries to climb them. Consider securing your tree to the ceiling or a door frame with fishing line.

You don’t have to omit your holiday decor, just be careful to decorate with your animal friends in mind! Hang decorations out of their reach, avoid using glass ornaments, and don’t leave your pet alone in a dangerous situation.

If you notice your pet is feeling wary of your holiday decor, try easing their discomfort with CBD oil for dogs or CBD for cats.

A large white dog stares out a window in a dark room

7. Changes in Routine

Pets thrive on daily routines - but when the holidays arrive, maintaining a routine may seem nearly impossible.

You might squeeze some shopping in after work one day, sleep in on your day off, or head to a holiday event. These activities can throw off your pet’s routine and cause them unwanted stress.

Do your best to keep your pet’s daily routine as normal as possible during the holidays to help them stay calm. Set alarms for mealtimes, continue to block out time for exercise and be sure to spend time playing with them.

If you know you won’t be able to fit in the usual walk, share the responsibilities within your household, and have someone else take your pet for a stroll. We all know there may need to be some flexibility to any schedule but doing your best to maintain your pet’s routine during the holidays will benefit both of you.

8. Less Attention

During the holidays, the days go by quickly as our schedules fill up and we find ourselves busy all of the time. With only so much time in a day, it’s hard to fit in the same amount of time with our pets as we usually spend with them.

Less time often means less exercise. If your pet is used to taking long daily walks, the absence of these will affect them. Pets will have extra energy to expend which can lead to destructive behavior. Make it a point to carve out time to relax and play with your pets. Attention does wonders for their behavior!

Separation anxiety is a common behavioral problem dog owners face. During the holidays there may be a lot of coming and going so it’s helpful to know how to help a dog with separation anxiety. Many people use CBD for their dog’s anxiety and find that it helps comfort and soothe a stressed pup.

A cat lays on the floor and hides its face

How Can I Tell if My Pet is Stressed?

Although our pets can’t tell us they’re stressed, their behavior can indicate it. Staying attuned to your pet’s behavior can help you know what they need.

Here are some subtle signs that your dog or cat may be stressed:

Cats and dogs may exhibit this behavior when stressed:

  • Incessant grooming
  • Licking their lips and noses
  • Giving you a side-eye or “whale eye”
  • Loss of appetite
  • Less social
  • Suddenly hiding under furniture or blankets
  • House trained pets may start having accidents

Dogs may exhibit this behavior when stressed:

  • Excessive shedding
  • Increased barking or whining
  • Yawning
  • Trembling or pacing
  • Tucked tails

Cats may exhibit this behavior when stressed:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Crouching and flattening ears

Give Your Pets the Gift of a Stress-Free Holiday Season

The holidays can be stressful for both ourselves and our pets, but if we plan, pay attention to the signs, and practice these holiday pet tips, we can lessen the stress our pets feel.

Keep your pet happy, healthy, and stress-free this holiday season with Paw CBD products for pets. Our high-quality, veterinarian formulated CBD products are designed for the comfort and care of your cat or dog.