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How To Help Your Anxious Pup Banish The Holiday Blues

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on November 30, 2017

Dogs depend on a reliable routine in order to feel secure. Unfortunately, chaos tends to rule when the holidays roll around, leaving many pups feeling anxious and confused.

We spend our spare seasonal hours cooking, cleaning, entertaining guests, wrapping gifts and decorating the home with strange objects (including a baffling indoor tree). All that holiday hullabaloo is enough to put any pooch into an emotional tailspin!

Unfortunately, with the extra demands on our time, it can be easy to overlook the fact that our dogs are suffering from anxiety. Pet behavior consultant, Arden Moore recommends watching for these 8 signs of seasonal distress:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Lack of energy and interest
  3. Lip licking and/or yawning
  4. Becoming boisterous or whining
  5. Hiding, cowering or ignoring your “come” calls
  6. Destructive chewing that never surfaced before the holidays
  7. Turning into a “Velcro dog”, shadowing your every step in the house
  8. Piddling or pooping in the house after years of stellar potty habits

A severely anxious pooch may also become physically ill. Many dogs suffer from stress-related vomiting and/or diarrhea around the holidays. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian.

To remedy your dog’s case of the holiday blues, consider these tips:

Provide lots of exercise.

Physical activity is an amazing stress reliever for dogs and humans, so take advantage of that fact with a brisk daily walk or outdoor play session. Just fifteen extra minutes of fresh air and exercise will do wonders for you both.


Spend some one-on-one time.

Make it a point to put down your phone and sweep aside the wrapping paper to focus on your dog each day. Whether you are brushing his coat, playing with a favorite toy, or just quietly cuddling, a bit of one-on-one time will help you both unwind from the stressors of the season.


Take care of yourself.

According to a 2015 survey, more than 60% of Americans experience increased levels of stress during the holiday season. Our pets are incredibly in-tune with our emotions, so it’s no wonder that many of them also display signs of the holiday blues. Taking the time to care for your own needs will allow you to be a strong, calm leader for your dog!

Limit the holiday treats.

Many dogs experience gastrointestinal symptoms during times of stress. In order to keep things running smoothly, it is best to avoid excess treats, rich table scraps, and new holiday goodies your pup is not used to eating.


Consider doggy daycare or a professional pet sitter.

If your holiday plans include lots of parties or extra time away from home, your dog may need some company. If he is outgoing and enjoys playing with other pups, consider dropping him off at a doggy daycare for a few hours. If he is a shy homebody, it may be best to have a friend or professional pet sitter come by the house for one-on-one attention.


Be proactive.

It is important to be aware that even though your dog may seem ecstatic to spend time with family and guests, he may still suffer from stress which can escalate to behavioral issues or illness if not addressed. If you know the holidays trigger anxiety in your pooch, ask your veterinarian about starting preventive medications or supplements before the festivities start!


Have pet emergency numbers on hand.

Stress can cause dogs to act unpredictably. In case of a swallowed ornament or a scuffle with your mother-in-law’s pooch, be sure important phone numbers like those of your veterinarian, after-hours emergency veterinary clinic and Animal Poison Control are posted in an easily accessible location. The APSCA’s Animal Poison Control 24-hour hotline can be reached by calling 888-426-4435 or you can visit the website at


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