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Preparing Your Pet for the Excitement of the Holidays

The holidays are a warm and enriching time for your family, which includes your pets, of course! But the uptick in traffic, change of routine and even dinner-time delicacies can throw your pet off balance. Here are some tips to keep in mind during holiday celebrations that will leave your pet feeling calm, considered and content.

Road Blocks

First and foremost, consider if your pet is likely to get themselves into any trouble around the house while guests are coming and going. If your pet is prone to run out or find themselves in a room normally off-limits, consider “puppy proofing” your home. Strategically placed gates can help both direct traffic while preventing your pet from getting themselves into trouble. Remember, your guests may not be used to your pet’s patterns, so deploying methods ahead of time to avoid any mishaps is the best prevention method.

Keep Scraps to a Minimum

It’s tempting to share scrumptious holiday food with your pet as a treat, but be extremely mindful about anything you feed your dog that falls outside of the range of their normal diet. Even pet-friendly foods can lead to an upset stomach if it doesn’t agree with them, leaving your pet feeling sick and forcing you to go on cleanup duty. In addition, your family and guests may also be feeling generous about sharing some goodies with your pet. If you suspect this to happen, it’s worth admonishing guests (politely!) beforehand about your pet’s sensitive stomach.   

Create a Calm Down Corner

Even a small gathering will be very stimulating to your pet! If you begin recognizing that their temperament is changing, or they may be feeling stress, prepare a “calm down corner” for them that exists away from the noise and commotion of your company. We recommend a room far enough away to provide a calm atmosphere, or even on another floor. Ensure you have some toys and comfortable accommodations prepared so your pet can take a well-deserved break – or even a nap! 

Assign a “Master” Role

The last thing you want to do as a pet parent is to neglect their needs. Your pet has a routine which they are accustomed to – but can get easily get thwarted with the commotion of the day. Assign one family member to your pet’s needs, including regular walks, feeding times and even intermittent playtime together. Not only will your pet feel considered, but they will be more likely to remain calm as they stick to their own personal routine.

Be Mindful of Children

If you are expecting a number of children at your holiday gathering, you’ll want to be very conscientious of how they interact with your pet. Children and pets can certainly provide one another with loads of entertainment, but children may also become overstimulating or even aggressive with pets. By no fault of their own, your pet’s temperament may be affected by this. It’s important to have an adult supervising any playtime between children and pets to observe any potential changes in behavior, and calmly intervene if and when necessary.

Dangerous Décor & More

The holidays are known for delicious foods, delicacies and décor. However, these extra goodies adorned around the house can be quite dangerous for your pet. Things like chocolate and cooked turkey bones are very dangerous for dogs to consume and should never be given to them. In addition, plants (like poinsettias) and décor (such as tinsel) can be toxic or disruptive to their digestive system. Keeping candles away from reach (or waging tails) will also prevent any mishaps.

Pre-Party Playtime

Burn some of your pet’s energy early in the day by taking them out for long walks or playing together before company arrives. Exercising your pet before the festivities begin will help them to remain more calm throughout the celebration and less likely to become over-stimulated.

Preparing your pet ahead of time, informing your guests of important potential issues and creating a safe space for them to decompress will not only help your own gathering go more smoothly, but will make the holidays more enjoyable for your pet as well.

Happy Holidays from Health Extension!