Let’s see a show of hands … how many of you are already stressed out over the holidays? Many of you have family arriving (or are expecting to travel), have a lengthy to-do list of gifts to purchase, and are worried about money. Many people look forward to, yet dread, the holiday season. Did you know that your companion animals pick up on your worry and stress and can manifest an illness or behavioral problem?
Companion animals are like magnets to their people; they know when we are sick or stressed and try to comfort us. But in their compassion, they also take on our stress so that it is lessened on us. So what’s a person to do to have a happy holiday pet?
1. Don’t change the quality or quantity of time that you spend with your pet. A sudden change, including ignoring your pet, can result in your companion animal getting your attention in a negative way.
2. Shake off your negative or stressful energy before you enter your home. I like to do a sweeping technique where I take my right hand and brush 2 inches above my body down the left side (sweeping the energy down) and then switching hands. It takes 5-10 seconds and you will notice a calmer you. Or you can ground yourself by touching nature (yes, be a tree hugger) or simply do a few rounds of deep breathing.
3. Give your pets a safe and quiet space in your home for when family and visitors are around. Some pets thrive around visitors, whereas others feel stressed.
4. Be sensitive to what your pet wants (not what you want). If your pet enjoys visitors, include them in on the festivities and being a part of your family. If your pet is nervous around visitors, do not force them to interact.
5. If you are going away for a day or more, find care for your pet that benefits your pet. For most pets, this would include a doggy walker or pet sitter that comes to your home. While it may be easier for you to place your pet at a boarding facility, is that really what is best for your pet?
6. Be consistent in your pet’s diet. If you do not feed table scraps, then do not start during the holidays. Your cat may be thrilled if you have Tom the Turkey on your dining room table. But if your cat does not eat human-grade food, then partaking in Tom can upset the tummy.
7. Be cautious of live holiday plants that you bring into your home (or while walking your dog). Here are some lists of plants that are poisonous to pets: from VetMedicine and from the ASPCA Poison Control Center. Also be sure to read the labels on pet toys to make sure they were made with safe materials.
8. Talk to your pet! Tell them what is going on, parties that have been planned, visitors that are expected, and any change in schedule. You may think they do not understand, but they really do.
9. Consider calming techniques such as: energy healing (Reiki, crystal healing); engaging in touch with your pet (just hold your hands on your pet’s heart and back for a few minutes); natural calming products such as Feliway, Comfort Zone or Rescue Remedy; and playing soothing music in the room for your pet during parties. Or give me a call to come over and provide energy therapy to your pet(s) or do so remotely, and even check out the new line of Elixirs that are infused with healing crystals and Reiki.
10. And lastly, show gratitude to your companion animal(s) during the holiday season and thank them for being a beautiful part of your life. And for those companions who have passed on (like my Oscar and Sammy this year), thank them for being your guardian angels.
If you or someone you know love animals, get a copy of my book Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets which makes a purrfect stocking stuffer!