A predictable routine is vital for pets amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  Make sure specific things such as meals, walks, play and bedtime occur on schedule each day, even when you are being pulled in many directions.  Sticking to your pet’s normal routine is one of the best ways to keep everyone stress-free as well as to maintain a healthy, well-behaved and well-adjusted dog or cat.

If you normally feed Fluffy or Fido first thing in the morning, but are taking the day off and hope to sleep in, still get up and feed your furry loved one first thing.  It’s the best approach to take.  If you have a day filled with errands, but your pooch is accustomed to a mid-day walk, work around his schedule, or hire a professional pet sitter to stretch his legs.  Don’t adjust your pet’s schedule to fit your needs.  Animals don’t understand that you need to buy presents, attend a holiday party or other reason requiring them to “hold it” until you return, especially if they are seniors.  Disrupt their basic needs as little as possible since their lifestyle will already be topsy-turvy with decorations, company and noise.

If kids are home from school and relatives visiting, it’s possible duties may be split among various humans, so it could be helpful to keep a checklist of your dog or cat’s daily needs, so that nothing gets missed:

  • Feed the Dog/Cat (Morning/Evening)
  • Vitamins
  • Exercise
  • Playtime
  • Treats
  • Walk (morning/noon/evening)
  • Change/Scoop the Litter
  • Bath for Fido/Fluffy including Trim those nails!
  • Wash Dog/Cat Bedding
  • Brush Dog/Cat Teeth
  • Buy more Pet Food
  • Schedule Veterinary Visit
  • Schedule Grooming Visit
  • Schedule Pet Sitter

What else should be on the list?

Exercise and playtime are essential as they allow our best pals to release energy in a positive way.  Although the holidays can be fun and joyous, most humans give off intense energy which can create great anxiety in our animal friends.  Without exercise, dogs and cats can become anxious, irritable and hyperactive.  Make it a point to provide your dog or cat physical exercise every day, and chances are, you’ll see a happier pet. Also, feed or treat from a puzzle game, maybe when company arrives, to keep pets busy and provide a brain teasing challenge.  Some pets like a modified hunt by having you hide pieces of kibble around a room or in small paper bags that they can find and tear into.

The final part of sticking to a routine is making time for togetherness. It’s why you’re a family after all!  It will do you as much good as it will your cat or dog.  Whether it is snuggling on the sofa, going for a peaceful walk or throwing the ball.  We are park of their pack or clowder and they want to feel part of all we do, so don’t relegate your fur family to the back room all season long.  Keep them safe, but make sure there is plenty of together time.

Walk at your normal walk time, feed on schedule and don’t forget to play — it does a body good (human, canine or feline). Practicing a few agility moves or basic obedience keeps the mind sharp. Especially when company is coming to call, schedule in quality time spent with your best friend BEFORE the doorbell rings. A tired pet is a good pet, and one who feels loved and special is a happier more well-adjusted one as well.


Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 31,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes and books.  Learn more at www.PetSafetyCrusader.com