How to deal with holiday pet anxiety, according to experts
Dogs may also experience anxiety when separated from family members, left alone, or moved to a new home. That’s something to keep in mind if your vacation plans involve traveling or adopting a new pet.
“It’s normal to expect a change in our dog or cat’s behavior during this time of year,” said Dr. Jose Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “And it’s important that we recognize some of the signs of anxiety so that we can do something about it.”
As the holiday season kicks off, here’s what experts recommend looking for and tips to keep your animals calm.
What behavior to look for?
Panting, walking quickly, being aggressive, barking too much, drooling, being disruptive, and having an accident in the home can all be signs of anxiety. So may be jittery and not eat on a typical schedule. Paying attention to body language — for example, a dog pulling its ears back or exposing the whites of its eyes — can also indicate fear.
That behavior could be a one-time event or a more permanent problem that requires a vet visit, veterinarians and animal behaviorists have told CNN.
Some signs of stress are often misinterpreted by pet owners as excitement or fun, experts say. According to Rosie Bescoby, a clinical animal behaviorist and spokesperson for UK Association of Pet Behavior Consultants.
Hyperactivity is another sign of animal stress that people may misinterpret as your pet having a good time.
Give your dog a safe space
The most important thing a dog owner can do is make sure your pet has a place where he or she can relax should visitors and strange faces become too much.
“Whether you’re celebrating alone or with a large family, it’s important to provide a safe, quiet place for your pets so they can escape the excitement,” says Arce. Arce said.
It’s important to remember that what can be fun for visitors is that humans can be overwhelming for pets. During holiday parties, Arce suggests keeping a quiet room for your dog and turning on the TV, which acts as a comforting white noise. Regular check-ups of the dog also help relieve stress.
Pets don’t always manage their emotions well, experts say, so you should make sure your dog pauses in excitement even if he or she seems interested in new company.
Veterinarians also recommend that you don’t move your pet’s bed during the holidays and don’t rearrange furniture to fit a Christmas tree in the house – such changes can affect your dog’s perception of the safety of the living environment.
Maintain the habit
Dr Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer, said: “Dogs are creatures of habit and develop a good habit. because the American Kennel Club. “We also know that dogs ‘choose’ according to their owners’ emotions.”
You should also walk your dog as usual around Christmas and other holidays and make the most of that quiet time of day, Bescoby adds. The same advice goes for maintaining your dog’s eating habits.
“A one-time thing is fine,” says Bescoby, but in general, I recommend keeping the same food, says Bescoby, adding that the best dog holiday toys are dog treats. toys or objects that can chew them. occupation and settlement during the bustling holiday.
Training is the key
Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of animal behavior at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, says teaching dogs to sit and stay is the necessary preparation when leaving them alone in the home.
If your dog is nervous when you leave, she recommends teaching your dog to sit and stay while you leave the room for a few seconds at a time. Your dog will know that you always come back, and you can gradually increase the amount of time he sits while you’re out of sight. Houpt says that lowering your spirits when you’re in and out of the house can also help train your dog to be less anxious.
“You don’t want to make that the pinnacle of the dog’s day,” says Houpt. “So when you walk in, you pretend you don’t have a dog…until he calms down, you shouldn’t give him any direct attention.”
The American Kennel Club recommends talking with your veterinarian or a certified trainer about basic obedience training before any stressful holiday situations arise.
Medications can help – but ask your vet
For pets with persistent anxiety, you should talk to your veterinarian. Prescription anti-anxiety medications can be helpful, especially when traveling, but it’s important to remember that no two dogs are alike and your veterinarian should be consulted about prescriptions and dosages.
“The use of CBD in the treatment of anxiety is anecdotal because there is no scientific data on its exact dosage in dogs or its effects,” says Klein. determine if CBD oil could be a good treatment for your dog’s anxiety, and discuss the different products, possible side effects, and risks.”
Other products on the market can also help relieve dog anxiety, such as weighted blankets. It won’t hurt to try lightning blankets, says Arce, but they may not help every dog.
Accept it responsibly
Moving environments can also cause stress and fear in dogs.
Experts say it’s important to make it as easy as possible for pets to get to their new home. If you already have a pet in the house, it helps to bring the new dog into a neutral area, such as going for a walk outside. The same concept applies to visiting a friend or family member’s dog.
Klein also notes that anxious dogs may try to dart or run away from home, so you should make sure all pets have permanent identification, such as a microchip with Owner information is updated.
“Make sure if you’re giving a pet (as a gift) for Christmas that it’s something you’ve been researching for a while, don’t make an impulsive decision,” Arce added. “This is a responsibility for life.”