Holiday stress: Client tips to help keep pets calm

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Raising Awareness

A happy holiday season for four-legged and two-legged families starts with helping clients understand several key things:

  • changes in the home can create stress for pets;
  • things we bring into the home can cause physical danger;
  • it may take time to help pets adjust to holiday decorations as well as packing up afterward; and
  • pets should never be forced to experience things that scare them. This will not help them “get used to it.” It only makes them more stressed or fearful.

Of course, families want to include their pets in every celebration that happens this season. The fact is, however, many pets do better if they sit out some of these events. Plus, it’s not just anxious pets who may need a break—any pet canbe overwhelmed by changes in the routine.

Helping families who travel

A pet that was stressed by travel during the summer vacation or a family move is likely to also be stressed by holiday excitement.

Offer tips to help make the pet more comfortable, whether they are taking the train, a plane, or an automobile. Encourage families to put the carrier or crate out now and remind them to offer special treats to entice the pet to investigate it. Owners also can feed the pet inside the kennel. Be sure clients know to include a comfy bed inside and leave favorite toys in or near the crate. This helps the pet see it as a good place to be, rather than as a punishment or something to fear.

Prevent gridlocks and headaches by using your e-newsletters to reach out to families to ensure vaccinations are up to date and travel documents or health certificates are in order to allow pets to travel within the U.S. or abroad. It’s also a good time to communicate with clients to ensure they have other stress-relieving products on hand such as pheromones, compression garments, anti-nausea medication, and anxiolytics if necessary.

If the pet is typically anxious about travel or disruptions in its schedule, discuss anxiolytics with the pet owner now. Giving “test doses” of different medications prior to travel or stressful events can be critical to being truly prepared for these events. For anxious animals, having pheromones and the proper anxiolytic medications can mean the difference between a Merry Christmas and a Blue Christmas!

Reducing stress for pets who stay home

For many families with pets, traveling just isn’t worth it. But just because the pet is home, doesn’t mean all is well. Any disruption to the normal routine can create fear, anxiety, or stress. Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy is key to ensuring your clients’ pets have happy holidays.

Visitors: If a dog or cat doesn’t like strangers, they won’t like people coming into the home. Advise clients to create a safe space now, with favorite toys and bedding to serve as a retreat when friends or family come over. Most people know when they will have visitors. Encourage clients to place pets in their safe place before the company arrives and be sure they know to give them a special long-lasting treat or foraging toy at this time. For anxious animals, this is a lot more fun than meeting new people.