Does Your Pet Feel Anxious?

animal wisdom anxiety happy holidays stress Nov 29, 2023
Golden retriever and holiday tree

It's the start of the holiday season. Thanksgiving here in the U.S. just zoomed by. Trees and decorations are going up by the boatload. There are lots of holidays in this season, not just the usual suspect, Christmas. Channukuh starts on December 7. I don't know when the rest are, but they all have significance, and I suspect they all do the same thing - stress people out.

When you're stressed out, your pets get stressed out. They are a perfect barometer for how you're feeling. What has your pet been doing that might be out of the norm?

In our house, we have a couple of cats who are ultra-sensitive to the emotions flying around the house. One gets super needy. In a way, it's cute, because he'll follow me into the bathroom in the middle of the night and beg to be picked up, and would prefer that I carry him back to bed - but he's a grown up boy and can get there on his own locomotion. I've also noticed he's been chattier than usual (which is saying a lot, for this one - his chirps, chirrups, meows and purrs go into overdrive when he's anxious). Other cats deal with stress by sleeping a lot. Ry lets us know in no uncertain terms that things in the house must change, or his life will be ruined.

Food is a good anxiety-reliever for me, too. Are you listening, mom?

Two of our dogs are needy as well. When we are stressed, they are uber attentive and make sure we know they're on our side, whichever side that happens to be. Very loyal. Very worried. 

We're here for you.

Our big dog, Niko, thinks truck rides are the solution to everything, so he'll do all he can to get us out of the house to give him and his two "sisters" a ride in the truck. It does help. He may have a point.

I can drive if you want....

What's going on at your house? How do your animals deal with your anxiety? Sometimes I think we don't even know we're stressed and anxious because stress and anxiety are such a big part of modern human existence. Our animals feel it, though, and if you have an animal who's acting out and all the physical reasons have been eliminated it's time to look at what you're bringing to the party.

This time of year, especially, can be very difficult. If you're connected to your family but far from home, that can cause anxiety, sadness, grief. Perhaps you've lost a beloved person (or even a pet) and this is the first holiday without them. It's a big hole. You're sad. The people around you may say they understand, but most haven't walked in your shoes. Getting together with friends can either cheer you up or have you so depressed you don't know what to do with it all. A well-intentioned remark can throw you right under the bus. 

The holidays always look like a perfect time of year, but they're often not. So what can you do, for yourself, and to help your pet?

You can meditate. A few minutes a day can make a huge change. There's a guy called Jeff Warren who is on the Calm app, and his 10-minute meditations are something we do every morning. They're easy to follow and Jeff is a self-proclaimed "mess", so he knows what works to get you through the day. The simpler, with no expectations, the better. You can also find Jeff on YouTube, and on his website,

You can get some exercise. A few minutes outside can make a huge difference. Appreciate your surroundings. Let nature take you away from your troubles for a moment.

One of the best things you can do for your pet is to own your feelings. When you're in congruence with what's going on in your body, it sends a different signal than if you're trying to buck up and pretend like everything's all right. Your pet can feel the difference. Talk to your pet. Tell them how you feel. Pet them, brush them, give your goldfish a few extra flakes, and let them into the situation. They get it. They're relieved it's not them you're upset with. You'll feel better. Your pet's anxiety will dissipate.

If you want to delve a little deeper into the holiday blues/anxiety/sadness/crazy syndrome and how to get the most out of the holidays, feel free to click on the link at the end of this post. You'll be able to sign up for an online course to help you identify your holiday stressors, and techniques for helping you cope. 

Make the holidays a good time, a positive time, for both you and your pet.

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