Ark Companion News

All is Calm: Helping Pets Survive the Top 3 Stressors of Christmas

By December 7, 2017 No Comments
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With Thanksgiving and the Kansas City Plaza Lighting Ceremony long gone, the countdown to Christmas is well under way! As the excitement of the season fills the air, many of us feel wrapped up in the stress of the holidays and may not realize it affects our pets, too.

Between the decorating, baking, visitors, traveling, parties, and shopping, our pets’ worlds can be turned upside down. They don’t understand the new sights, sounds, smells and changes in our schedule during Christmas. This time of joy and cheer, can be the most stressful month for them out of the year!

Some pets, like people, have the personality to bound through the holiday season no problem. Others may show signs of stress. It is important to know your pet and how they behave in certain situations and be prepared to help them cope with the changes this time of year.

Signs your Pet is Stressed!

  • Hiding
  • Vocal, barking, whining
  • House-soiling
  • Lip licking or yawning
  • Cowering, tucked tail when called
  • ↑ Attachment
  • ↓ Appetite
  • ↓ Energy or interest
  • Irritable or restless
  • Growling or snapping
  • Destructive
  • Jumping up
  • ↓ Litter box use
  • Trembling
  • Not coming

In general, you can avoid or remove your pet from the stressful situation or train them to change their reaction or behavior in the situation. Calming aids may be useful with these scenarios, such as comforting pheromones like Adaptil or Feliway or an anxiety wrap like the Thundershirt. However, the anxiety may be severe enough that you need to seek a veterinarian for help.

Be aware these signs can also indicate a medical problem. Therefore, if you have concerns with your pet and are unsure it’s stress related, then visit your veterinarian.

Otherwise, read on for tips on how to manage the top 3 stressors your pets experience during the holidays!

Schedule Changes

Keep Your Daily Routine

Our schedule becomes chaotic this time of year. Don’t forget about your pet’s needs. They will feel less stressed if you keep them on their regular schedule with their meal times, walks, playtime, and maintaining a clean litter box for your kitties.

Attention and Exercise

With the demands of the holidays, our pets can feel left out. Be sure you are giving your pet some daily snuggle time and plenty of exercise. This can help with your holiday stress, too!

Christmas Guests

Gift Them Space

Offer your pet their own quiet space if they don’t appreciate the crowd or just need a break from the company. This is generally a quiet room away from the visitors and can include their own bed, blankets, food, water, puzzle toy, calming music, etc.

Some pets may prefer even being further away from the party. Perhaps a boarding facility or hanging with a pet-sitter would be less stressful.

Monitor Entries and Exits

When guests arrive and leave, it’s easy for your pet to escape unnoticed. If they are mingling with the guests, make sure they are wearing identification such as tags or a microchip in case they do slip out.

​Manage Interactions

Try to maintain calm introductions and have guests arrive gradually. Sometimes with all the excitement, our pets can forget their manners. Training on how to react to arriving guests appropriately can be helpful.

With other guest’s pets, it’s best to not feed them together, share toys and avoid the kitchen or food tables to prevent a fight over resources. Be sure to put food away when you are no longer in the area, as it can be tempting for our pets, too!


Pack the Comfort of Home

Packing your pet’s own food, bed, blankets, crate and toys can be comforting. Also, don’t forget their medications, medical records, identifying information, and any paperwork required for flights or interstate travel.

​Road Trip

Long car rides can be stressful for all involved! Taking frequent, shorter, fun car rides beforehand may help ease their anxiety about road trips.
When on the road, secure pets in a crate or with a pet approved safety belt or harness to decrease restless pacing and distractions while driving. If needed, use veterinarian recommended medications for motion sickness. For everyone’s sake, take time to stop for stretching legs and potty breaks!


Be sure you adhere to the individual requirements of each airline for pet travel so you don’t have any last minute surprises trying to get to your destination. Use tips described above to have a smooth flight, but frequent, short, fun flights may be challenging to accomplish!

Find a Home Away from Home

Leaving your pet at a boarding facility or in the care of a pet sitter may be your best option if traveling is too stressful or your pet is not welcome to join you. Holidays are busy for these services, so make reservations in advance. Check requirements for vaccinations and preventative care to decrease risk of contagious disease while boarding.

If you are unsure how your pet will handle being at a boarding facility or pet sitter, then do a trial run before the big trip and make adjustments from there. A good boarding facility or pet sitter should be able to recognize and meet your pet’s social, emotional and physical needs.