’Tis the season for spreading holiday cheer, but a packed social calendar can leave you feeling drained. With mental health an emerging issue in veterinary medicine and beyond, Juanita Hills Animal Hospital knows that setting aside “do you” time can be the ultimate recharge. We may be biased, but our team believes that one of the best ways to reduce stress is spending extra time with pets, who can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and remind you to find joy in little moments. Try these fun holiday pet activities to renew your love for the holiday season.
#1: Hang a pet stocking
Add a pet stocking to the mantle this year, or buy new, matching, personalized stockings for the whole family, pets included. When you open your goodies on Christmas morning, your pet can enjoy their gifts with you.
#2: Light up the night
Throw on your heavy coat and boots, go for a neighborhood walk, and enjoy the lights and decorations. If your area is a bit lackluster, you can probably find free or low-cost light shows in local neighborhoods, park districts, or garden centers.
#3: Bake holiday pet treats
Smelling cookies throughout the season can be torture for pets when they’re not allowed to lick the bowl because of toxic human ingredients (e.g., chocolate). So, make your pet their own goodie batch, and share extras with pet-loving neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family. This guide can help you choose healthy, safe ingredients for the tastiest treats.
#4: White elephant gift exchange
A white elephant or secret Santa gift exchange can include everyone in your family or workplace without breaking any individual banks. Try organizing a similar pet gift exchange with other like-minded pet owners who want to refresh their pet’s toy chest. Reach out to your personal circle, or try harnessing the power of social media to reach a larger audience.
#5: Pet pictures with Santa
Pet photos with Santa provide cherished memories, and allow you and your pet to meet and socialize with other pet owners. Your local doggie daycare, animal shelter, veterinary hospital, and other pet-related organization may host Santa photo sessions as part of a local fundraiser, so you can also contribute to local pets in need.
#6: Attend a holiday market
Holiday pop-up markets and outdoor shopping centers can be great places to do your shopping with your pet in tow, and you may find a few pet-themed business booths. Check before you go that the event is pet-friendly. If cold weather keeps you inside, you can take your pet for an adventure in a hardware store, garden center, or feed store, which often allow pets inside.
#7: Personalized pet ornament
Snap a cute pet photo that you can have made into an heirloom ornament you can treasure with your family forever, or make a new ornament with a new photo to add to the tree each year. Crafty pet families can create their own ornaments—but do not use salt dough, which is toxic to dogs.
#8: Send a pet holiday card
Choose a pet photo collage for your holiday card this year, or take a new photo with the whole family in matching pajamas—including your pets. Recipients can see your family grow each year, and will get a kick out of seeing your pet wearing holiday footie PJs.
#9: Deck your pet in holiday gear
Upgrade your pet’s wardrobe and make them a walking decoration with holiday sweaters, collars, or bows, if they are amenable. Up the ante and go all out with household doggie decor, including holiday blankets, bowls, pillows, toy baskets, and treat bins.
#10: Movie marathon
Most people struggle to relax and enjoy the holiday season, but pets can fix that. Choose a day to stay inside and enjoy a festive—or cheesy—movie marathon snuggled up next to your pet. Snuggling a pet can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall stress level, and you can enjoy all the feel-good Hallmark movies at the same time.
Our holiday pet activity checklist has something for everyone, and can provide a fun respite from seasonal stress. Whether you’re starting a new pet tradition, enjoying an outdoor event, or snoozing on the couch with your pet, Juanita Hills Animal Hospital has all your pet’s medical needs covered. Contact us to schedule a wellness visit or pre-travel examination, or to update their vaccines to ensure your pet stays happy and healthy.