Keeping your dog stress free this Christmas

Making sure your family has a fabulous Christmas is a top priority. With so many gatherings and presents in abundance, it’s a wonderful and extremely exciting time of the year! But, whilst we’re busy getting wrapped up in the festive fun, we may forget to think about the effect Christmas can have on our pets – what you might find exciting during this busy Christmas period, may be stressful and confusing for your beloved canine.

If you’ve welcomed a new family member this year, this will be their first Christmas and it can be a lot to take in. Even for pets who have been in the family for several years and have experienced their fair share of Christmas holidays, it can still be a difficult time for them. With festivity comes loud music, carol singers, decorations, a change in routine, excess visitors around the house, including young children, and a continuously ringing doorbell; while some dogs may love the extra attention and excitement, others can find the experience highly stressful, resulting in them feeling exceptionally anxious and overwhelmed. 

Going away for Christmas?

If you’ve decided to go away this Christmas and leave your dog in a Kennels, or with another member of the family, this may also cause your dog stress, often known as separation anxiety. 

Separation anxiety in dogs is triggered when dogs become upset, scared, or frustrated because of separation from their guardians – the people they’re emotionally attached to. Some dogs suffering from separation anxiety become agitated when they realise their guardians are preparing to leave; others seem anxious or depressed when their guardians aren’t present. Over time, your dog might even start to anticipate the changes to their environment that lead up to that person leaving and may start showing their anxious behaviours before their guardian leaves.

How do I know if my dog isn’t coping?

One of the hardest things about our relationships with dogs (as great as they are) is that when something is up, they can’t easily communicate that to us. That’s why, with issues such as anxiety, it is important to be aware of the signs so we can help our canines cope. Whichever way you and your furry friend are celebrating Christmas this year, get to know the signs that they are stressed so you can step in and save the day.

Facing stressful situations can lead to the development of unwanted behaviours. Research shows that 40% of owners notice a change in their dog’s behaviour and/or mood during the Christmas period. Dogs can react to stressful situations in a variety of different ways, some of which may be very noticeable, whereas others may be less so – symptoms which make you think “they don’t look themselves?”. Learning our dogs’ unique ways of communication can help to reduce their anxiety and prevent potentially dangerous situations from happening.

Some common signs of anxiety in dogs:

  • Weight change.
  • Over grooming.
  • Sleep disturbance.
  • Unusual body posture.
  • Excessive vocalisation. 
  • Inappropriate toileting.
  • Withdrawal behaviours.
  • Altered social interactions.

What can you do to help?

Planning ahead can help minimise stress for dogs and ensure they have a happy home at Christmas, too. If you know your pooch is prone to noise phobia and extreme anxiety during the festive season, you might like to consider a natural anxiety/calming supplement for dogs that can be started a few days before the expected busy period, to help manage their stress and anxiety. From sprays to spot-on treatments and tablets, you can help your dog relax in no time.

Zylkene is one example of a supplement recommended by many vets that helps to ensure your companion feels relaxed and calm at home. Made from a non-drowsy, natural ingredient derived from a protein in milk called casein that has clinically proven calming properties to help relax dogs, Zylkene is just the thing for nervous pups. In fact, it has become a valuable support for veterinary surgeons, behaviourists, nurses, and pet owners for use in helping pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations…such as the Christmas holiday!

Zylkene can be easily administered in multiple ways, so you can tailor to suit your pet’s needs and cater to any fussy eaters – simply sprinkle on food, pop directly in your dog’s mouth, or dissolve in their water.

Make this festive season a great experience for you and your pet by bringing a bit of extra zen!