The holidays are not coming up; they have arrived! With the arrival of the holidays, our lives and schedules become jam-packed with activities that disrupt our daily lives, but don’t forget the same things are happening to your canine pal too! Your loyal dog is tuned into your emotions and your schedule, so if you notice that they are acting a bit off, know that they get stressed as well. Don’t worry though, because Specialized K9 Services at Woof in the Woods is here to help you by giving you tips on how to reduce holiday stress for your dog.
Look for Signs of Stress
Know the signs of stress in your pet so you can help them during this season.
Note that the following signs could also indicate a health concern, so consult with your veterinarian if you feel it is way out of character for your dog.
Here are some common indicators of stress in your dog:
- Loss of appetite.
- Excessive lip licking and/or yawning.
- Lack of energy and interest in favorite things.
- Hiding, cowering, or ignoring your “come” calls.
- Boisterous barking or whining.
- Chewing up items, such as couch pillows, that they would usually never touch before the holiday season.
- Playing “shadow” by being glued to your side through every step of your home.
- Pottying inside when they rarely do so otherwise.
If you notice these traits in your pet, take time to address them, so they do not continue and become habits after the holidays.
Reducing Stress of Celebrating at Home
Our dogs are used to everyday routines just as we are, so it is no wonder that they get stressed when everything changes. Even their living areas are invaded not only with people but a huge tree that shows up randomly one day with sparkling, glowing, “do-not-touch” ornaments. The holidays can be a confusing time for pets, so let’s talk about some ways you can help them during this time.
- POWER WALK YOUR DOG: Pick a time each day that you take your dog out for a brisk walk or run to burn off excess physical energy. This is beneficial for both you and your canine to reset and recharge, especially around the holidays.
- BE CREATIVE TO BURN OFF MENTAL ENERGY: Just like kids, our dogs get a build-up of mental energy (what can I get into next?). Feeding toys and puzzles, structured walks with rules, urban agility on walks, ways your dog actually engages the brain will help drain your dog of mental energy.
- SCHEDULE CUDDLE TIME: Slow down long enough in the day to pause and gently call your dog over to cuddle with you even if it is only for 5-10 minutes. Let your dog know when it’s time for this interaction rather than your dog becoming demanding of it. You would be astonished as to how much this improves your mood while also comforting your pet. In fact, cuddle time will help both of you step away from your busy holiday schedule to thrive this season!
- BOOK A DOG-FRIENDLY ACTIVITY: Find a way to bring your dog in on celebrating with you by researching local activities such as special holiday parties for dog owners. Another option is to take a leashed walk around the neighborhood and look at the lights together, but don’t forget to pack fun treats to give your canine pal.
Watch Out for Holiday Food!
Although it is natural to want to include our pups in our holiday dinners and give them a taste of what we are enjoying, be careful! Stress can also come from eating things that dogs should not have in the form of loose stools and/or vomiting. That is why we are including a list of things your dogs should never have! And keep an eye on the two-legs in your house too because they may not know what your pet can have or not.
Things your dog should never ingest:
- Alcohol: has the same effect on our dogs’ livers and brains as it does on humans. However, it takes much less alcohol to cause severe damage to your pet than it does us.
- Caffeine: many holiday dishes contain caffeine in one form or another, and it can prove fatal to dogs. This includes chocolate!
- Candy: sugar is not great for dogs, to begin with, but many types of candy that show up during the season contain a sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol can cause liver failure in your dog, so be sure it stays out of reach and is not in foods, like peanut butter, that you might give your dog.
- Garlic, onions, and chives: you will find these ingredients in all kinds of forms from raw to powdered and in a variety of dishes! However, if your pet ingests them, it can lead to damaged blood cells and anemia-don’t risk it.
- Spices and nuts: we tend to pull out all kinds of spices during the holiday season to flavor our food, but they are not healthy to our dogs, so keep them out of reach. For example, nutmeg can be toxic and cause stomach pain, seizures, and hallucinations for your pup. Various nuts are not safe for your dog either, such as macadamia nuts in particular. These nuts can cause tremors, paralysis, rapid heartbeat, and other complications.
- No cooked bones: once bones are cooked, such as those found in turkeys they splinter easily and if ingested, can perforate the intestines or esophagus of your dog. Be safe, just say no to cooked or processed bones! Give only raw bones, but before you give your dog bones, do some research to know if it is a bone your dog can easily chew up and digest or large bones to chew on but not swallow.
Just keep in mind that the digestive system of our pets is not the same as ours, but they don’t know that, so it is our responsibility to look out for them. Get products (foods, supplements, toys, bedding, etc.) specially formulated for pets rather than assuming if it’s safe for human, it is safe for our pets.
We hope this helps you prepare your pet for the holidays and that you both enjoy it to its fullest! If you need further suggestions for ways to keep your pet stress-free, contact us today, and we will be happy to assist you!