Sometimes this is referred to as pet depression or pet anxiety and separation. Regardless, of what it is called, it is challenging for dogs, cats and people alike.
So with the holiday,celebration come changing schedules, vacations, celebration with all the pomp and circumstance, guests coming and going, late nights and other schedule changes, earlier time to darkness (starts getting lighter out 12/21:) means changes in routines and schedules for everyone including our family pets. Our dogs may feel the loss of extra playtime and companionship, especially as the daylight hours become less, and we're less likely to want to go for those long walks when the weather gets cold, and we're not quite as interested in being outside as long as we used to, so our dogs can feel that loss of extra playtime and companionship. Holiday times may also bring some new family additions... rescued cats and dogs that are finally home in their furr-ever homes or kittens or puppies that a little elf brought...with so much attention distracting us it's no wonder we're all stressed to the MAX!
So, often, our pets are faced with separation anxiety, stressors, and depression, too! Have you ever returned home to find in your absence your dog has chewed the woodwork into splinters, or the pillows for the bed have been chewed into a pile of fabric, ribbons, and stuffing to redecorate, or have the neighbors complained about barking and whining for an hour after your car leaves the driveway, or you come home to a smelly surprise package waiting for you to clean up on the kitchen floor?
Those kinds of experiences may indicate that your pet suffers from anxiety and depression; as your veterinarian we're the first resource to call as we want to make sure there are no medical problems such as a bladder infection which can lead to puddles of pee which might happen if there's not an ample opportunity to go outside to eliminate, or digestive tract gastrointestinal disorders or other neurological conditions that would need directed treatment for those problems...if we find that your pet is physically healthy then a series of relaxation and behavior modification lessons can help with the coping skills and stress of not having the expected human companionship, can also help deal with the change in population guests, and visitors, doors opening, loud noises, holiday activities.
Treatment for anxiety, does not involve punishment of any kind: we don't want encourage or compound any problems that lead to depression or anxiety which can be difficult for us to see and feel as concerned pet parents. We want to reassure a visibly upset dog or cat and make sure that they know that everything's okay, but if done incorrectly may actually validate the depression, the anxiety, and the fear. One place to look is the FEar Free Happy homes tab on the fear free website. There's some good things to incorporate into our day to day activities as we face changes in schedule holidays. So the key to control can involve training, behavior modification, sometimes diaries, medications owhich can be useful in moderating these types of responses. We don't want anybody being depressed whether it's because of changes in schedule, changes in number of daylight hours, walk time and playtime. So we are as veterinarians integral part in helping you and your pet's deal with stressful situations and can.