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Are the Holidays Stressing Your Pet Out?

Sad pug laying on hard wood floor

‘Tis the season of traveling, holiday parties, and more! It’s so much fun to unwind with loved ones over a nice meal with a drink in your hand surrounded by holiday decorations, but where is your pet when all of this is going on? Are they socializing? Getting into some food they shouldn’t be? Scared, hiding under a table?

Just like people, dogs can get stressed in crowded, large social situations too. It’s important to recognize when your pet needs a break. Here’s how you can tell if they’re stressed and some party tips for how to keep them calm.

How Can I Tell if They’re Stressed?

  1. Their eyes: If you can see your dog’s eyelids peeled back and they show white, he/she is probably stressed. You may see a crescent shape of white as they look side-to-side, which is known as the “half-moon eye.” Red eyes are also a sign that they may need rest.
  2. Their ears:Dog ears differ, but stress will make them react in one of two ways. Some dog’s ears become more erect if they are stressed or uneasy, but some may find that they pull back or lay flat, becoming almost pinned back, when they are stressed.
  3. Their teeth: Do you notice their lips curled back? More teeth or gums than usual? It’s important to notice that curl before a bite. It’s important to note that even whiskers can stand up during stress.
  4. Their tails: A tail says a lot about a dog. A tail between the legs is common, but if it’s pointing straight down, or just wagging at the tip, it may mean stress.
  5. Their body language:A dog’s entire body language will say the most about their stress levels. Some things to look out for when trying to see stress are abnormal shedding, tense muscles, excessive yawning, excessive drooling, itching and scratching, and licking of lips and nose.

    If you think that your dog might be stressed, there’s good news!

Here’s What You Can Do to Help Your Dog Relax

  1. Provide a calm and stable environment is very important to your dog’s stress levels. Understandably, a party may not be a calm enough environment for your pet. Consider keeping them in a comfortable, loved area such as their favorite bedroom or crate. If they are still anxious with background noise, look into having another friend or family member babysit, or boarding at a fun dog daycare facility.
  2. Boost their pheromones. For maximum relaxation, plugging in a pheromone diffuser can actually help your dog relax. These chemical messengers can make a dog feel that it is safe and secure, and that it can relax.
  3. Pet your dog. It sounds simple, but small things can go a long way for our furry friends. Pet gently, glide your hand over their coat, and follow the direction of their fur. Try using both hands, one following in the trail of the other in a repetitive motion.
  4. Get them enough exercise. Be sure to give your dog exercise every day. Activity levels vary, but breeds such as the Jack Russell or Border Collies need plenty of exercise. If you leave them at home for many hours during the day, this is especially important. Making sur e they burn off some energy can help keep them calm later on.
  5. The right diet. Do your research and make sure your dog has an appropriate diet. Feed a good quality food that is right for your dog’s life stage and size. Keeping them full and happy will also help minimize begging for those yummy party hors devours.