There’s plenty of merriment swirling about the holidays, but sometimes the Stress Grinch pokes his nose in too. And with pets in the mix, anything can happen! Whether you’re the holiday host or a visiting guest, common-sense consideration goes a long way. With some careful planning, you can reduce the chance of hurt feelings, uh-ohs, and (let’s hope not) holiday squabbles.
1. If you’re welcoming friends and family for the holidays, be sure to let them know ahead of time that you have a pet. Be considerate if guests have allergies. PetMD suggests the following: Bathe your dog or brush your cat to reduce allergens. Clean your house, and pay special attention to upholstered furniture, carpets, and rugs. Consider making your guest room a pet-free zone where animals are not allowed. Keep over-the-counter allergy medications on hand.
2. Be honest. Your pet might be the family darling, but how does he react around strangers? Is your pet well-behaved or likely to get excited or aggressive amid the holiday hubbub? Vetstreet suggests introducing your pet to guests one-by-one, or simply allowing your pet to observe for a while rather than overwhelming him with a large chatty group. Brush up on obedience training before guests arrive.
3. As tempted as you might be to let your pet join in the holiday meal, keep in mind that certain “people foods” can upset pets’ stomachs and might even be toxic. Ask guests not to feed your pet table scraps, and consider keeping your pet away from the holiday table if the temptation is too great. Review the ASPCA’s list of foods to avoid feeding your pet.
4. Just as you need respite from all the commotion from time to time, your pet can benefit from breaks away from the stress. Vetstreet recommends a walk or other exercise to help him to burn off energy or frustration. A puzzle toy is another option to distract him and relieve holiday tension. Consider creating a little hideaway meant for your pet only (no guests) where he can unwind or get his bearings.
5. If you’re the guest, never assume that you can bring your pet, even if the host has pets or is a pet lover. If it’s okay with the host and other guests that you bring your pet, remember to bring all the accessories you need. Consider the possible extra stress on your host and on your pet, if your pet doesn’t travel well or has trouble adjusting to new situations. Hiring a pet sitter, preferably one who’s watched your pet before, might be the way to go to keep the seasonal harmony.