Happy Holiday with Pets and Guests

By Animal Behaviorist Diane Anderson

It’s the holiday season. A stressful time for most of us as we try to cram as much “Fa La La La La” into our lives as we possibly can. But what about the needs of our pets? Are they still being met? Many people may answer ‘No.’ Our pets tend to take a back seat to all the festivities which can lead to unwanted, not to mention embarrassing, behavior problems. (Nobody wants Fido dragging around your dirty laundry in the middle of your big Christmas Eve party!)

Luckily such issues can be prevented by simply including your pets in the holidays, as well as making sure that guests know how to properly interact with them. I give you, my 12 holiday tips:

  1. Even though the holidays bring a change in schedule and extra busy schedules, try to keep your pets’ schedule the same. (Feeding time, potty time, play time, and walks should be kept on schedule as much as possible.)
  2. Dogs cannot have turkey skin, grapes, chocolate, raisins, onions, ham, garlic, or macadamia nuts. Dogs can have pumpkin, ground turkey meat, sweet potatoes. Consider making a plate especially for them or at the very least inform guests of the do’s and don’ts of table scraps.
  3. Pumpkin dog cookies. Make these for your pets so they have something of their very own to enjoy. Click here for the recipe.
  4. Make sure guests know the dog/cat rules of the house. For example, you wouldn’t want your indoor cat being let out or your dog with food allergies given a treat he shouldn’t have.
  5. Make sure guests have the proper space to store things like medications out of your pets reach. Dogs and cats both are naturally inquisitive in regards to new things and new smells. Better to prevent any potential mischief in the first place.
  6. Keep cats away from Hanukah candles. As we know, cats can jump and leap with ease onto most surfaces. Keeping your cat away from flames not only protects them, but your home as well.
  7. Pets can feel your stress, make time for them daily. Take 5-10 minutes every day and just sit with your dog or cat. It will help ease their stress AND yours.
  8. Beware of cats and Christmas trees. Many cat owners no longer even try having them in the house, but if you do, be aware that to your cat it may just look like a kitty playground.
  9. Never allow your pet to drink the tree water, it is harmful to their health.
  10. Ornaments lights and tinsel may prove to be too irresistible for your pet and can have serious health effects. Keep a close eye on them especially if this is their first holiday season with you.
  11. Poinsettias and holly are harmful to pets as well as mistletoe. Consider keeping them out of reach or choosing other plants instead.
  12. New Years brings loud noises. Make sure your pet is properly secured and/or desensitized. For a desensitization protocol, contact me!

Wishing you and yours, two and four-legged alike (and maybe even three) a very happy and safe holiday season.