The holiday season is a busy festive, happy time that we all seem to love and look forward to each year. Family and friends gather and share the years stories, decorated homes, abundance of food, drink and appreciation for each other.
This can be "the most wonderful time of the year" as the song states but may also be the most stressful time of the year as well. What starts out as magic can lead to manic preparation with all the expectations and extra workload to our already hectic and busy lives. The next week or so can take a toll on our physical and emotional bodies.
As the hustle and bustle of preparations to make everything perfect closes in on us and the stress takes over our otherwise happy and cheerful selves, our immune system kicks into high gear working overtime, our adrenals are on high alert working overtime creating extra cortisol in order to manage stress and increased activity, perhaps making our temperaments a bit short. Remember to breathe, stretch and smile.
Now is a good time to remember that our pets are also on high alert and perhaps high concern and worry for what is about to happen in their world as well. Remember, they mirror us for most of our emotions, especially when it comes to stress and excitement. For example, when we make our voice higher or loud with excitement to engage their happiness for a walk in the park, play date at the beach or any other favorite activity of theirs, they jump, bark, wag, run to the door, etc, you get what I'm saying here. It's their happiest moment ever knowing that this voice and energy you're exuding is just about them and the fun they're about to have. They feel our anxiety and stress in the same way, turning on an "uh-oh" moment wondering what is happening next.
Changes in the home that may seem subtle to us may not be as subtle to our pets. Changes like moving their bed from the normal place they sleep during the day to a less conspicuous place, rearranging furniture, guests in the home, etc. can all cause stress and anxiety as well increasing cortisol production that may change the way they respond to the changed activity. I'm not saying don't do any of these things, just be aware that these type of changes may be cause for insecurity that can lead to stress.
Stress and anxiety can show in a dog via increased barking, hiding, feeling insecure leading to anti-social behavior, panting without obvious cause, running away when guests arrive, the tail tucked and other signs as well. Cats may urinate in places other than the litter box, hide endlessly, bolt from the home when a door opens seeking quiet and safety elsewhere, stop eating or exhibit destructive behavior.
Keep an eye out for changes whether subtle or direct and consider one or more of my tips below to help your pup or cat cope. Shutting them in a room or garage should not be an option as this will only conclude their worry and anxiety, not help them to find ease, peace and safety.
5 Tips that can help keep the holidays magic for your pets
- Flower Essences for Emotional Support reassure that "this too shall pass" and all is really well, just busy. For use with all creatures, including ourselves. My favorite one is "Blue Calm" co-created by Christine Tolf of Lichenwood Herbals in So Berwick, Maine read about it here www.lichenwood.com
- Organic Herbal Calming Products working directly with the central nervous system may be the best answer for some pets to bring the happenings into perspective so they can respond to anxiety positively, not reactionary. Our Pet Calming Formula is a liquid and can be used acutely by administering orally, with affects lasting up to 5 hours. The Canine & Feline Calm is a powder that can be added to their food with lasting affects up to 8 hours.
- Talking, Cuddling and Reassurance that comes from us is key first and foremost. There is nothing that says "I'm safe and fine" more than a hug to assure and soothe our pets, bringing tension into calm. Hug your pets everyday:)
- Lavender Essential Oil Diffused in the home is a natural stress reliever that brings calm and lowers anxiety to all that enter! Lavender can help with sleep and mood (who couldn't use that help this time of year), and was used in ancient times to tame lions and tigers. If you have cats in the home, you should use caution with essential oils in general, diffusing can be a safer way to use them as you would use approx 10 drops of lavender in 1 oz of carrier oil, or you can simply put a few drops on Fido's pillow or bed if you prefer.
- Get Out and Play! Extremely important is the almighty exercise to increase circulation, prevent boredom, breathe fresh air, spend time having fun with your pup, expels energy and clears focus and the list goes on. While you may say "yeah, right" where am i supposed to find time for that? The answer is: make it, even if it's only for 15-20 mins a couple of times a day and you'll all benefit from it immensely.
John and I wish you and your furry friends a safe, happy and healthy holiday season full of love and cheer with fabulous food.
Joyce Belcher, Ava Gardner, Reggie, Lily and Rudy Valentino