The holiday season is a time of joy and togetherness. It's also a time of busy schedules that can impact everyone in the household -- including pets.
People are not the only ones who feel the emotional tug of the holidays. While their owners may be concerned about hosting parties or ensuring all entertaining details are met, pets may be unaccustomed to changes in daily routines that take place when their owners are entertaining guests. New smells and sights and the confusion of the actual event may elevate stress levels for pets. According to ASPCA Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Research Dr. Katherine Miller, people may underestimate just how stressed pets feel when their routines are turned upside down.
Take special consideration of pets when any holiday or special occasion takes place. Here are some pointers that can make the process easier on everyone involved.
•Try to stick to the routine as much as possible. Although having a party or shopping for gifts may require demands on your time, try to schedule tasks and errands at times when it won't interfere with pets' schedules. For example, try not to alter meal times or daily walks. Also, if errands have you running late, see if a friend or family member can stop by your home and tend to the pets.
•Keep pets' identifications current. Times when people are coming and going from one anothers' homes may open up possibilities for pets to get loose and lost. Be sure physical identification tags as well as contact data online for microchips are current so pets who get lost or run away can be easily found and returned home.
•Keep pets away from table scraps. Rich foods and desserts are often part of celebrations. While these treats may be enjoyed by guests, they can wreak digestive havoc on many pets. Also, some foods may be choking hazards. Be mindful of taking out the trash promptly and don't let pets indulge in too many table scraps.
•Spend time with your pet. Pets may feel left out if you are too busy to spend time with them as you prep for parties and holidays. Make some time to sit with your pet and interact, even if you're just playing around.
•Leave a quiet space available for your pet. Some animals are very sociable and enjoy spending time with new people. Others may be skittish around guests and prefer a low-key area where they can reside during festivities. A quiet bedroom or a crate may be the perfect den for your pet. You also will have peace of mind that the animal is safe and out of harm's way.
•If travel is involved in plans, gradually prepare your pet. Visiting for the holidays, birthdays and other special times often involves some sort of travel. You may need to condition a pet to spending periods of time in a crate or carrier so that the ride is event-free. Do so a few weeks prior to your travel date.
•Know pet travel regulations. Some states have laws regarding the transporting of pets over state lines. The same can be said if you will be visiting from Canada to the United States and vice versa. Know the type of documentation you will need and file the necessary paperwork to ensure you do not face legal issues when traveling with your pet.
•Schedule a vet visit. You want to be sure that your pet is in good physical health prior to any gatherings in the household. Having a sick pet when you're planning a party or prepping for the holidays adds extra work to the entire equation.
Holidays, parties, travel, and special events throughout the year can create changes in household schedules and disrupt the comfort level of pets. Know how to make these times as stree-free as possible for companion animals.