Many pet guardians ask if pets can get stressed out around the holidays. The answer is yes. Pets are creatures of routine and habit. Most humans are busy during the holiday season. They are so busy that they can forget to stick to their pets’ routine. This can cause stress for the animal and, in turn, that animal can behave in ways that are unusual.

Stressed animals may appear to be depressed or lethargic. An anxious dog may choose to retreat to its crate for safety. A cat that has had enough my lash out at anyone who comes near. Pets that are overly stressed may stop eating. There are a variety of behavioral changes that can take place in an animal that is experiencing heightened levels of stress. The good news is that there are also a variety of ways that these animals can be helped.

1. Get Back Into the Routine

Get back into your dog’s usual routine as quickly as you can. Return to normal feeding, exercise and play times. Your dog’s stress level will be reduced greatly when it is able to get back to the life that it was used to before the holidays rolled around.

2. Establish a New Routine

For some people, a new year can bring a lot of changes. It may be a new house or a new job that you and your family are dealing with. If this is the case, quickly establish a new routine for your dog that you will be able to stick to. Dogs can adapt in a very short time if given the chance.

3. Interactive Toys

Giving your dog a job to do can help get it out of its funk. One of the easiest things to do is to give your dog an interactive toy. There are several toys on the market that can be stuffed with treats or safe human foods. One of these toys stuffed with peanut butter and kibble can give your dog’s brain a workout for hours.

4. Exercise

A bit of exercise does a body good. Exercise also does the brain good. Do not forget that your pet will have to build its stamina if it is not used to regularly exercise. Get outdoors and get moving with your favorite canine companion. Gradually build up to about 30 minutes of exercise each day.

5. Stressed Out Cats

Like dogs, cats are creatures of habit. Unlike dogs, cats can take a bit longer to come out of their stressed-induced behavioral changes. Re-establish your cat’s regular routine. If your cat has gone into hiding, sprinkle a bit of catnip onto different surfaces that your cat enjoyed before the holidays. Try a new variety of wet food to entice your cat to eat. Cats will often come out of hiding once they realize that the house has returned to its normal level of activity.

If your dog or cat is exhibiting signs of stress, try not to worry. Many animals will return to normal once their household does the same. It is only when your pet’s behavior lasts for several days or more that you may want to consult a veterinarian. You never want to assume that prolonged behavioral changes are a result of stress. Your pet may have an illness that just happens to coincide with the holidays.