The holidays are coming at us in full force! While they’re definitely a fun time to make memories with family and friends, they can also be super stressful. All the traveling, get-togethers, and parties can be overwhelming. And if you’re planning on hosting, you can count on doubling all of the stress.
Planning a menu, inviting guests, and making sure your house is judgment-proof is an exercise in frustration. Amidst all of the planning, there is often someone who gets forgotten until the last minute because they can’t speak up for themselves - the family pet.
We love our animals, but in the holiday rush, we sometimes forget that we need to think of their needs as well. Before we get mired in the seasonal zaniness, let's take a minute to go over the things we need to do to protect our pets during holiday gatherings.
Basic Safety Tips For Your Home
If you are having people over or decorating your house for the holidays, there are some aspects of your pet’s physical safety you need to be aware of.
- Make sure your guests know you have pets. This will prevent people from inadvertently leaving a door open and allowing your cat to sneak out. Make sure your pet is wearing their I.D. in case they do make a break for it.
If you have a dog, keep them on a leash while greeting people at the door. This will guarantee you know where they are and help you keep your dog calm and under control as your house begins to fill up.
- Watch your dog around the food. Starting with Halloween and going through the New Year, veterinarians see an increase in pets being treated for pancreatitis. The high-fat foods being served during the holidays can trigger this condition. Bones can be hazardous as well. Cooked bones can splinter and do damage to your dog’s mouth and digestive tract.
Warn guests not to feed your pets from the table. Secure your trash cans so your dog doesn’t feel the urge to help themselves. Food out on the table should also be supervised so your pet doesn’t feel like they can hit the buffet line.
- Beware of toxic decorations. If you have an overly inquisitive cat or dog, there is some holiday foliage you need to stay far away from. If you have a plant nibbler, note that poinsettias, ivy, and mistletoe are toxic for pets. If you know you have a pet that just can’t resist tasting every plant you bring home, consider the fake variety.
Be careful with the placement of any decorations that have dangly pieces, these can prove to be irresistible to a cat. And keep lit candles in places that can’t be bumped by a wagging tail.
If you are heading to a gathering out of town and plan to take your pet, make sure you have planned ahead and are totally prepared. You aren’t the only one who may be stressed by traveling. Your pet will be feeling uncomfortable too. Make sure you have your plans in place early to prevent any complications while traveling.
- Have your accommodations planned. Don’t wait until the last minute and lose your chance to get a pet-friendly room. Have your room booked well in advance, and call ahead prior to arriving to verify you have a pet-friendly room.
- Have a crate with you even if you travel by car. A crate will keep them safe while driving and give them their own space in your hotel room. If your dog is crate trained, the crate will also be a source of comfort while they are in a new environment.
- Try to keep your pet on their normal schedule so they feel more comfortable. Sticking to your routine even in a new place will help them understand that everything is okay.
Preventing Holiday Anxiety In Your Pet
As you rush around preparing for guests or preparing to travel, remember that your pet will sense your stress. Your pet won’t understand that you’re worried about proving you’re the ultimate holiday host. They’ll just sense that something is different. This may cause anxiety in your pet and result in anxious behaviors or negative behaviors like destruction. Be on the lookout for any signs that your pet is feeling stressed and overwhelmed:
- Pooping in the house for dogs OR outside the litter box for cats
To protect your pet from holiday anxiety, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep your pet on their regular schedule, and keep them engaged with their regular activities. You want your pet to feel calm and be on their best behavior. Keeping everything feeling normal even as you prepare for guests or to travel will help prevent anxiety from setting in.
- Have a quiet area set up for your dog or cat. Even a people-loving pet can get overwhelmed by too many people in their space. Designate a room where your pet can go and not be bothered. Make sure your pet has food, water, a comfortable place to lie down, and include a few favorite toys.
- Reward good behavior. If your pet is staying out of the way and being quiet but not displaying any of the signs of anxiety, reward them with a healthy treat to reinforce this behavior.
- Find a qualified pet sitter. If you don’t feel like you can keep your pet on their normal routine with all of the holiday craziness, a pet-sitting service may be just the ticket. They can play with your cat, take your dog for a long hike, and provide the extra attention your pet needs. You don’t need to be going out of town. A professional pet sitter will entertain your pet even if you’re at home.
- Try a calming supplement. If your pet still seems on edge with exercise and a routine, you may want to try adding a CBD supplement. A CBD supplement formulated to be pet safe does not contain THC and may help relax a stressed-out cat or dog.
The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about your cat or dog’s physical and mental wellbeing. But thankfully, taking a few preemptive steps will ensure their safety and help give you your own peace of mind.