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Holiday Stress Reducers and Safety Tips

Many of us feel extra stress around the holidays, and it's good to keep in mind that our companions feel our stress as well. They also have their own share of holiday stress – traveling, extra visitors, more time spent alone while their guardians attend holiday parties or are out late shopping, and all the extra commotion and change of routine that comes with the holiday season. If you notice your dog licking his paws, acting clingy, or pacing around unable to settle and rest in one spot – then he or she is likely feeling stressed. Cats may hide under the bed more or fail to use the litter box routinely when they are under stress.

There are a variety of ways to reduce the stress level for your companion. Remembering to spend enough quality time with them will reduce both their stress and yours. Walking the dog, playing with the cat, or just sitting with a purring cat in your lap are excellent ways to practice "living in the moment" and leave the holiday hassles behind for awhile. 

Dogs can be given chews and bones to help reduce stress – chewing is a great stress reliever for dogs. We offer many natural chews and bones for dogs.

Many animals can be soothed with calming music. Or, while you are away try leaving on a pet entertainment movie for their enjoyment.

If during the holidays your companion will not have access to some rooms or parts of the house he is used to spending time in, don’t wait until the guests arrive to make the transition, which multiplies their stress. Block them from the "to-be-restricted" areas a week or so before the guests arrive and invade their territory. This will give your pet time to adjust to the "room-off-limits" and "new-person-here" changes one at a time.

Insure that your companions have a quiet place to retreat when you have guests, such as a bedroom or even a closet if they like to hide away. Just remove your shoes or other items to a higher shelf for the holidays and make them a little nest or resting place. 

Flower essences are an excellent way to support your companion's emotional stability through the holidays or any stressful time. Herbal formulas for stress contain complementary herbs that soothe the nerves and support the animal's emotional well-being. Homeopathic remedies for stress are another very safe way to assist your companion in dealing with anxiety, and they tend to be fast acting. Check out our large selection of stress remedies.

Safety concerns are another issue needing attention during the holidays. Holiday decorations and food can be dangerous for our companions. If you have newer pets or playful ones – especially puppies and kittens – it is good to act as if you have a crawling baby in the house. Keep ornaments off the bottom foot or two of the tree and make sure it is well anchored to a wall or the ceiling, or even gate the animal away from the tree, cover electrical cords, don't leave wrapping paper or ribbons lying within reach, keep candles up on higher tables and shelves, etc.

If you suspect your companion has ingested broken glass, plastic or other sharp objects, call a veterinarian.  While you are waiting, give her supplemental fiber to bulk up the stools and help it pass through her system.  Canned pumpkin (1/4 to 1 cup) can help, whole wheat or high fiber bread, or Metamucil (1 teaspoon for a small dog, 1 tablespoon for a big dog). Cotton is sometimes recommended, though it must be used with caution as it can cause blockage in some animals.

Watch your companion’s water bowl closely – dogs especially will drink more water when stressed, so keep fresh water available at all times. If you have a fresh Christmas tree in the house, DO NOT let pets drink the water in the tree's water reservoir. To be safe, do not add anything to the tree water like fertilizer or aspirin. And be sure to keep holiday plants such as poinsettias, holly and mistletoe out of reach - all of these are toxic when ingested.  Remember to warn visitors as well to keep medications and personal care products (and maybe their shoes if you have a chewer) out of a pet’s reach.

Chocolate can be very toxic to animals, so make sure the people treats don't turn into "pet" treats. It is best to keep your companion's diet as routine as possible during the holidays. Even though it is tempting to share all the delicious holiday food with your cat or dog, keep in mind that stress can make their digestive system more sensitive and they may not tolerate the extra goodies as well as they might at other times of the year. If your dog or cat does manage to get into the holiday food, watch closely for any reaction. Call a veterinarian if you see signs of serious vomiting or diarrhea or if the animal develops a fever. For milder reactions, a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin along with a bland diet of white rice and boiled chicken can soothe the digestive tract. Only Natural Pet Tummy Relief and LoveMyPet Diarrhea Relief are excellent remedies to keep on hand for periodic cases of diarrhea and stomach upset.

Some companions may be boarded outside the home or will be traveling with their guardians. Don’t forget to take along a stress soothing remedy from our collection of anxiety & stress remedies. For animals that will be boarded, give specific instructions to their caretakers for administration of remedies. Two easy ways to administer flower essences are to simply put the remedy into the drinking water, and to make up a spray bottle containing the remedy and ask the caregiver to spritz the cage or bedding area 4 or 5 times a day. Remember to give the animal whatever remedy you choose for at least 2-3 days before you are scheduled to leave. This will allow time for the remedy to build in their system and give you time to watch for any unwanted effects.

Supporting your companion through the stress of the holidays will likely reduce your own stress level as well. By planning ahead and keeping your companion's needs met ,you can reduce or avoid stress-related accidents and help curb or eliminate the unwanted stress-related behavior of your animals.

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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

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