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Special occasions and holidays tend to be extremely stressful for all of us . . . and, believe it or not, can affect our pets as well. During the holidays there are so many new things such as candles, plants, decorations, wreaths, presents, people, food, noise, music and more. All the hustle and bustle stresses us out tremendously and our pets have a way of sensing our stress, which puts a strain on them as well.

Our pets have to endure a constant stream of company throughout the season. Many pets love all this joy and adoration while others feel more anxious, such as cats and shy dogs. Their eating habits could change. They may feel too nervous to eat their regular meals or with all the special foods available for the holidays, may be apt to find and/or sneak treats they should not have. Guests in the home might give them treats and with the extra foods their system is not used to, the pets could get sick with vomit and diarrhea.

We spend much time preparing for the holidays, shopping, cooking and decorating without much time spent for our pets. The lack of exercise suddenly puts a strain on your dog and his normal activity level. Your pets are also not used to all the strange objects going up in your home, the décor, tree, wreath, plants, candles and more unfamiliar accessories, deserving of his/her curiosity . . . things that can be hazardous to our pets, without proper planning.

Situations of constant stress and emotions trying to get everything done can reflect on the pet as well. Speaking from experience, we seem to “flair up” verbally when things are just not working out right and even though not directed at our pets, it does affect them and their feelings.

If only holidays did not have to be so traumatic for us as well as our pets. We can make a conscientious effort to get things running more smoothly. The best thing you can do for your pets is to keep as close to the regular routine as possible. Keep the usual feeding times and amounts, be careful of any unwarranted treats, inform guests not to give anything to your pets for health reasons, maintain the usual exercise pattern you have always done and keep life as normal as possible.

During a house full of guests, allow a retreat space and/or room for your pet to escape to in search of peace and quiet. Even though your pets may love all the special attention from the crowd in your home, they also appreciate some solitude as well.

Above all, be knowledgeable about the dangers lurking during the holiday season and keep things out of reach. Holidays should be happy and enjoyable for all and sometimes takes a little effort on all concerned to make it the best for the whole family.