Mindful Holiday Care for Pets

Posted - December 15, 2023

By Carol Bryant, Professional Pet Blogger

Ah, the holidays – a time to reflect, rejoice, and celebrate with family and friends. For our pets, the holidays can be extremely stressful. Throughout this whirlwind time of the year, mindful holiday care extends to our furry, finned, feathered, and scaled family members.

There’s a mind-body connection that both pets and people experience when dealing with stress. When animals are exposed to frequent stressful situations, their immune systems become suppressed. As a result, they are more susceptible to illness

As pet parents, there are things we can do to minimize stress so our pets remain happy and healthy throughout the holiday season and beyond. It starts with being intentional and mindful. Here’s how it works. 

Mindful Holiday Care for Pets Explained

To be mindful is to be aware, attentive, and have clear, calm intentions for your actions, thoughts, and interactions.  Instead of becoming stressed in planning holiday events, people can cultivate gratitude and calmly focus on the here and now. 

Pets sense emotions in their humans. Both cats and dogs are sensitive to human emotional signals and can read our facial expressions, too. Everything from guests coming and going to being separated from family members can make pets feel stressed and anxious. 

“It’s normal to expect a change in our dogs or cats’ behavior during this time of the year,” according to Dr. Jose Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, told CNN. “And it’s important that we recognize some of the signs of anxiety so that we can do something about it.”

10 Ways To Practice Active Mindfulness With Your Pets

  1. Stop stress before it starts. Pay attention to signs of stress. Things like excessive meowing or barking, yawning, drooling, panting, changes in potty habits, hiding, or becoming withdrawn. Pets thrive on routine and stability. Offer them a quiet retreat like a kennel or separate room where they can chill and stay out of the way. 
  2. Limit Exposure to Loud Sounds. The holidays are a time of cheer and celebrating, and that can include New Year’s fireworks displays. Play soft music, talk to your veterinarian about calming agents, and create a more peaceful atmosphere.
  3. Monitor Holiday Decorations. Certain plants are dangerous and even lethal to pets. Things like holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies are a few plants the Pet Poison Helpline mentions avoiding. Be mindful of lit candles and consider flameless candles for extra safety. 
  4. Monitor Your Pets’ Skin and Coat. As we spend more time indoors, the heat goes on as the temperatures fall. Your pet’s skin may experience dryness and flakiness and show signs of winter stressors. ZYMOX Shampoo and Leave-On Conditioner are designed for dogs and cats to soothe, hydrate, and relieve dry, itchy skin. They make great stocking stuffers for pet parents, too.
  5. Practice Mindful Nutrition. It can be tempting to give Fido a Christmas cookie or toss Fluffy a holiday morsel, but resist the temptation. Ensure well-meaning guests and visitors know what your pets can and can’t eat. No one wants to spend the holidays in a crowded veterinary emergency room. 
  6. Make Holiday Travel Fret-Free. If your pet isn’t fond of traveling, getting a pet sitter or making arrangements with a qualified boarding facility might be best. If your pets are road warriors, make a checklist of what to take along for safe road trips with pets
  7. Plan Regular Mental and Physical Exercise. Amid holiday chaos, dogs and cats need mental and physical activities even more. Make time for walks, play sessions, cuddle time, brain games, and puzzles. This will also help burn off excess energy for you and your pets.
  8. Make Mindful Introductions. When guests stop by, introduce your pets at their own pace. If your cat prefers to hide under the bed, don’t force her to come out. Some dogs love people, while others are leery of new situations and people.
  9. Partake In Holiday Cleanup. When was the last time you checked the expiration on your pets’ treat bags? Is there anything you can toss out? Time for a new bowl? Fresh food? Safe toys they can play with? Now’s a great time to practice mindful cleanup. Replenish any ZYMOX products and start the new year on the right paw. 
  10. Year-End Veterinary Visits. There’s no time like the present to have your veterinarian perform a wellness check on your pet. While there, you can ask about calming agents if your pet tends to get anxious in changes to their routine.

The entire Pet King Brands family wishes you and your family a safe, happy, healthy holiday season and ‘paws-perous’ new year!


About the Author

Arden Moore

Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant as a “dog lover of the highest order” when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio. Carol is well-known in the pet industry, having appeared on television, radio shows, and podcasts, as well as in articles from CNN and Yahoo to Dogster and Today.com. She is the founder of the award-winning blog FidoseofReality.com and is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America.


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