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Preparing for Thanksgiving with a Sensitive Pet

A sensitive dog like Tristan is always alert and ready to go.  © 24Paws

This time of year you may be busy making a grocery list, cleaning up for house guests, and searching in vain for that old sweater your visiting Aunt knitted for you… but don’t forget to make a list of the essentials for your sensitive pet this Thanksgiving.

If you have a sensitive pet, whether he suffers from separation anxiety, or is highly attuned to subtle changes in his environment, preparing for any holiday festivity can be a challenge. Thanksgiving may be fun for you, but your pet may find the flurry of activity before and during the holiday stressful.

If you have a sensitive dog like our Tristan, then you may find yourself constantly stepping over and around him as he attempts to understand why you are suddenly moving furniture around, carting stuff from room to room, or suddenly altering his schedule while you attempt to complete your seemingly never ending list of chores.

Dogs like Tristan are attuned to the changes in your movements and mood, and respond to the stress and excitement they sense in your tone of voice and actions. When Tristan was younger, he would bark and race to the door for a walk, repeatedly initiate play, and forgo any naps or restful periods to stay directly underfoot, keeping watch on all the holiday preparations.

It is easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated when your dog begins to stress out too. Take a breath and keep these tips in mind:

–        The daily schedule you have with your dog is important to maintain, especially in times of stress. The both of you need a good walk, a bit of fresh air, and some time to clear the mind. A good walk can be just the ticket to release stress and anxiety.

–        If you plan on fully transforming rooms with different furniture arrangements and decorations, plan accordingly and make changes slowly. If you leave it for the last minute and overhaul everything overnight, make sure your sensitive pup is not overlooked. Having someone available to entertain him in another section of the house or arranging a play date with a trusted friend can do wonders for him and you.

–        Expect that your dog may respond to the increased stress with episodes of vomiting or diarrhea. Be prepared by having a good cleanser on hand. Some other essentials we like—disposable gloves, paper towels, and rags for blotting.

–        If your dog can’t handle the influx of visitors, create a room for him that facilitates relaxation. His favorite bedding, toys, and a Kong stuffed with his favorite treats can help reduce his stress and induce periods of rest. Don’t forget, we highly recommend you grab yourself a (digital) copy of Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion. The both of you can benefit from the soothing tunes.

–        Keep all candles, potpourri dishes, and flowers out of reach of your pet. Your attempt to create an inviting atmosphere may be just the thing that invites a trip to the emergency vet.

–        A stressed animal is much more likely to run past you out an open door. Make certain your pet’s ID tag has current information (phone number, address, and local county/city registration and rabies information) and keep it on him at all times.

Remember, all the holiday preparation and celebration doesn’t matter if you and your companion animal are stressed, tired, cranky, and sick. Keep your commitment to your companion animal at the forefront of your holiday celebrations and you’ll all stay safe, relaxed, and maybe… just a little saner.

As always, we love to hear your stories and suggestions!