How the Stress of the Holidays and Holiday Travel Plans Can Affect Your Animals

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Looking forward to holiday travel? Many Americans are planning on ‘revenge travel‘ — traveling more to make up for not being able to see friends and family during the pandemic.

As a result, trips will be longer, farther, and more involved than before. While these adventures may be exciting for you, what about your pet?

Pet stress spikes during the holidays. Animals are often creatures of habit and disrupting those habits can often stress them out and impact their health.

If you’re wondering how to reduce pet anxiety over the holidays, we’ve assembled a guide to help you out. Let’s get started!

1. Plan Ahead 

Assuming that your pet ‘will be alright’ is always dangerous. Cat owners are especially at risk of making this assumption. Cats are famous for being independent, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them alone for days on end. 

No matter what type of pet you have, they are used to the routine. That routine includes being walked, seeing you regularly, being fed at certain times, and so forth. 

No part of their routine has equipped them for being lonely in an empty house and drinking stale water out of a dish that hasn’t been replenished for days. If you don’t plan ahead, though, boarding shelters and pet sitters will be all booked up. 

If you plan ahead, you’ll be able to introduce your pet to their new circumstances. This will reduce their holiday stress, make sure the boarding or pet sitting arrangement is a good fit, and help keep them safe.

2. Establish the Rules 

What does your holiday travel situation look like this year? Maybe your holiday and pet stress is reduced slightly because you’re hosting this year, rather than traveling. 

Take a few minutes to consider the potential implications of pets and holidays. If you have a new puppy that is particularly troublesome, it might not be the best time to introduce them to a house full of strangers.

Even if your pet is well-behaved, know that your holiday stress will be compounded by keeping an eye on guests. Feeding your pet table scraps without permission can be fatal and will only add to your pet stress.

Try to introduce your pet to new surroundings and people slowly. Make sure you don’t change their diet too much, either. While it might be tempting to let them fill up on holiday treats, altering things too much could stress them out and negatively impact their digestion.

3. Make Some Changes

What if you’re only living for two days? If you have a healthy adult cat, for instance, most experts on pets and holidays agree you can leave them home alone. While your cat will most likely be okay.

But if you’re wondering how to reduce pet anxiety, you can do more. Even if your pet will be safe, they will still be quite stressed. After all, you are the main constant in your pet’s life. 

Start by playing the radio in your absence. As long as it’s safe to leave something plugged in, keep the radio on low while you’re gone. This will help your pet because the house won’t be silent. 

Create multiple feeding stations around the house, too. This advice depends on the eating habits of your pet. Some cats in particular are able to self-regulate.

Other pets will eat any food in sight, and then be sick. If this is the case, you may choose to invest in an automatic feeder for your absence. If not, you can set up multiple food and water bowls in different places. 

This will prevent your pet from running out and going hungry or thirsty while you’re not there to replenish the supply. Once you have their basic needs covered, though, it’s time to consider enrichment activities.

4. Enrichment Activities

How much of your day do you spend playing with your pet? Do they snuggle up in your lap when you watch TV at the end of the day? This is a huge part of their day. 

When you’re gone, what can you do to make sure they aren’t as bored as they might otherwise be? You can start with a new toy or two. 

This will make sure they have something shiny to play with and can help stimulate them and make your pet happier while you’re away on holiday travel. Their favorite treats won’t hurt, either. 

Of course, make sure it isn’t wet food that will go bad quickly. You’ll also want to limit the amount you set out — a balanced diet is crucial to pet health. That way, they won’t eat too quickly and get sick.

If you have a cat, there are plenty of things you can do to make life more exciting for your feline friend. Consider setting up some cardboard boxes in your absence. 

Cats love to nest inside contained, warm spaces. If you tuck a shirt of yours in there, so much the better! 

You can also create small blanket forts. Cats love dark spaces and lurking there usually brings them some joy during your absence. You can set these up in their usual favorite napping spots, anyway. 

Some pets also appreciate high perches. If it’s safe, you can set up some sort of perch or scratching tower for your pet to rest on in your absence. Whatever you do, make sure that you plan ahead for your pet’s safety above all else.

Reducing Pet Stress for Holiday Travel 

Pet stress might spike during holiday travel, but this is a short time of the year. All the quality time you spend with your pet at other times of the year pays off, and they’ll soon be feeling less stressed as soon as their routine is back to normal.

Reducing pet stress through careful planning, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques can help make the holidays better for both of you. If you’re interested in great supplements that can help with stress reduction, contact us today!