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Holidays and Celebrations can be Stressful for Pets      

Dr. Al Townshend

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, Thanksgiving Day, Halloween, birthdays, and anniversaries are all exciting times for us all, but how do your pets react to these festive times?

Planning Ahead

These events and how we celebrate them often take considerable planning and preparation well in advance to be successful and a joy for all. When Pet Guardians plan for these happy events, it is essential to consider the pets and how they will respond to the plan.

Pets, like people, all respond in different ways, and for the pet’s sake, considering how a pet will react to the plans for any event can assure a successful time for all, including the pet.

Some animals accept change to the home’s daily activity, and others can struggle. Anxiety and apprehension can be a tremendous stress for a pet that is resistant to change, noise, crowds, or other deviations from the norm.

How Will Your Pet React?

Anxiety and Apprehension

If pets are not regularly exposed to new things, they can have an emotional crisis during the exciting time of some happy events. Understanding how a pet will react and taking precautions can assure a successful and joyful time for all, including a beloved pet.

  • Hypersensitive pets are often better off being excluded from the festivities.
    • Staying in a quiet room in the home, away from the festivities with familiar toys, blankets, and a little food and water, can ease the tension for some pets.
    • Exercising the pet prior to putting it in a closed room can calm the pet.
    • Cats are calmed with the use of aromatic pheromone diffusers, sprays, wipes, and collars.
    • Melatonin, a hormone that naturally rises in the body during sleep, can calm a canine. Always give supplements at least two hours before the party begins. Consult your vet before administering to your pet.
    • CBD oil has a calming effect on dogs and cats (check the laws)
    • Calming supplements containing natural herbs such as Chamomile, Valerian, and St John’s Wort have a calming effect. Visit your local Pet Planet to see what calming products we have available.
  • Taking the pet to a familiar boarding facility or pet sitter can be the best option for some pets.


Many pets are okay with celebrations until the fireworks and other loud noises begin. 

  • For these pets, it is best to give supplements in advance and isolate the pet out of harm’s way.
  • Others can only be calmed by close contact with a beloved Guardian speaking softly and petting reassuringly.


Pets often see their role as a protector and can feel threatened if not familiar with new people in the home, crowds, and especially with those uncomfortable around pets.

  • Reassuring a pet’s concern can save the day.


People coming and going, the door opening and closing can increase the risk of the pet bolting out and wandering off.

  • Pets at risk should have a microchip ID and a collar or harness ID to have the best chance of a quick return.


Holiday and festive foods are often a temptation that is hard to resist.

  • Keep foods up and away from temptation.
  • Avoid giving food to the pets during the event. An unexpected reaction can disrupt the fun for the family and require an emergency trip to the veterinarian.


Holiday decorations can pose a threat to a pet and the home.

  • Christmas trees and their decorations (especially tinsel) can be a potential risk.
    • Cats and even small dogs may decide to climb the tree, so be sure it has been secured to a base.
  • Candles are always a risk for a curious pet.
  • Holiday plants can be poisonous to pets. Common toxic plants to avoid include holly, azalea, amaryllis, cyclamen, kalanchoe, peace lily, mistletoe, chrysanthemum, and gardenia.

Holidays and special events can be an exciting and joyous time for both Guardians and their pets if proper consideration is given in advance.

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