an anxious dog surrounded by chewed paper.

The holiday season is synonymous with family gatherings, food, and fun, but pets left alone for long periods during all the hustle and bustle can feel lonely and even experience full-blown separation anxiety. At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, we want the holidays to be merry for pets and their people, so we’ve put together some hints for easing your pet’s stress during this busy season.

What Does Separation Anxiety in Pets Look Like?

Both dogs and cats can experience separation anxiety during holiday pet boarding or anytime they’re left alone for long periods. 

Common signs of separation anxiety in pets include:

  • Excessive vocalizing
  • Peeing or pooping in the house (outside of the litter box for cats)
  • Destructive behavior such as digging, scratching, chewing
  • Clinginess when you’re home
  • Getting underfoot
  • Hiding (cats)

Preventing Separation Anxiety in Pets 

Many pet families choose holiday pet boarding for peace of mind when they have to be away from their pets for extended periods. Reputable boarding facilities provide safe, secure environments where pets receive care from trained pet care professionals. Our pet hotel and boarding facility offers 24-hour supervision and plenty of playtime and stimulation for pets. 

If you’re planning on choosing holiday pet boarding, implement the following strategies at home now to reduce your pet’s risk of separation anxiety when you’re away for longer stretches later.

For Dogs:

  • Especially for new dogs, gradually increase the amount of time you are away. 
  • Speak calmly when leaving or returning, and don’t make a fuss.
  • Choose a word to use every time you leave to signal to your dog that you will return. 
  • Leave behind a treat dispenser so your dog associates your departures with something positive.

For Cats:

  • Spend one-on-one time with your cat before leaving. 
  • Don’t make a big deal out of leaving or returning home.
  • Use puzzle feeders while you’re away to entertain and reward your cat.
  • Provide plenty of indoor enrichment in the form of window seats, cat trees, and scratching posts.
  • Use calming pheromones like Feliway. 

Preventing Separation Anxiety in Pets During Holiday Pet Boarding

When boarding your pet, keep the following tips in mind to help ease your pet’s loneliness or anxiety:

  • Provide familiar items during holiday pet boarding, such as a favorite blanket, toy, and article of your clothing. 
  • Supply the boarding facility with your pet’s normal food.
  • Tour the facility ahead of time, and schedule a “test run” prior to your big trip.
  • Keep it short and sweet when dropping off your pet.
  • Choose a facility with options for stimulation and socialization.

Pet Daycare During the Holidays 

If you’re preoccupied with cooking, decorating, and entertaining, pet daycare during the holidays is an option to consider for reducing your pet’s feelings of isolation. Pet daycare can provide the stimulation and socialization your pet craves when holiday schedules get extra hectic.

We’re Here to Help

If you have concerns about separation anxiety in your pets, please contact us for a consultation. Some pets with severe separation anxiety can benefit from prescription medications.