As the holiday season gets into full swing, stress levels start to rise — and not just for the humans! Whether you are hosting this year or traveling to visit friends or family, take a moment to find your zen. The holidays can be hard for everyone in your family, and your furbabies will be the first to pick up on your tinsel tinted anxiety. Make some simple adjustments during your celebrations and you can help reduce your pet's stress level and keep him safe throughout the holiday hustle and bustle.
Designate Some Quiet Space
When a whirlwind of friends and relatives are coming over for a festive gathering, an increased number of visitors may intimidate or over-stimulate both dogs and cats. Provide a quiet room or location where your furry friends can retreat when they need to. Loud music, laughter, and revelry can wreak havoc on a shy dog's nerves, so allowing your pup to excuse himself for the comfort of his bed is important. Dogs who are more excitable may need to be placed in a secluded space as well to prevent jumping, barking, or other unwanted behaviors when your guests arrive. Consider keeping your indoor cats in a designated spot as well, especially if they aren't super friendly or are prone to anxiety. Both cats and dogs may find the comings and goings of so many people enough to make them bolt, so be aware of open doors. The change in your pet's normal routine can cause stress as well, so try to keep his schedule as close to normal as possible.
Beware of Shiny Decorations
Holiday decor definitely sets the mood for merriment but can pose some significant safety risks when your dog or cat gets involved with the decorating. Your pet's natural curiosity may get the better of her, especially once she catches a glimpse of the Christmas tree. Keep in mind that exploration is a definite possibility. Unfortunately, there are health hazards directly related to the holidays. Cuts from broken ornaments, intestinal blockage from eating wrapping paper, poisoning from drinking chemically treated Christmas tree water, or even burns from knocking over lit candles are some possible risks. Fragile ornaments, burning candles, garlands, tinsel, chocolates and bright plants should be kept out of reach of your pets. To stay on the safe side, consider using flameless candles, putting ornaments higher in the tree branches, and making fresh drinking water available at all times.
Dress Your Pets with Their Comfort in Mind
Who can resist a puppy dressed up like an elf or a cat in a Santa hat? Adorable, right? Dressing your dog in antlers might look ridiculously cute to you, but he may not be so comfortable with this. Pay close attention to your pet's behavior while they are wearing their costume. If they are pulling on it, scratching, or writhing to remove said holiday wear, maybe pull out your camera for a quick photo and then remove it. The same goes for any winter clothing your dog may wear. When the temperatures drop as the holidays approach, acclimate your dog to any coats, boots, or sweaters you may have them wear on their walks before you leave the house.
Put Away the People Food
While we do love to indulge in hearty holiday meals, now is not a great time to feed your pets the rich, flavorful food humans enjoy. Any new dietary changes can cause some stomach upset for your furry friends, and table scraps can be a recipe for intestinal disaster. Ask your guests not to feed people food to your pets and keep an eye on that Christmas goose or ham left alone in the kitchen. Of course, holiday traditions wouldn't be complete without the cookies, chocolates, and candies. Sweet treats are great for humans but that chocolate gelt or the cookies you left for Santa can be potentially fatal for your dog. If you find an empty chocolate box or the remains of some edible presents, be on the lookout for symptoms of chocolate poisoning. Be sure to keep all people foods out of reach of curious canines.