a dog and cat sleeping on a dog bed with a christmas tree and christmas colors in the background

Prepare for the holidays with your pets in mind

The holidays are a great time for people to meet up, have fun, and relax at home. For many pets, this becomes a wonderful season to spend more time with their families, as the kids are off school, and adults may have vacation time. We must remember, though, that the activities that we find enjoyable can be very stressful to many pets.

For pets regularly used to calm, quiet days at home, the influx of people and, sometimes, other people’s pets, can be stressful. Make sure you allow your pets to escape if they need to, to a quiet room where they can relax, and let them rejoin the party when they are ready.

Make sure all guests are advised of your pet’s presence. If your pet has any dietary restrictions, make sure your guests know that this is not a suggestion, but a hard and fast rule. Some pets have severe allergies to things we normally eat. Something as small as an elbow macaroni or a piece of cracker can set off an allergy attack that can take weeks to clear, possibly involving veterinary care and medications. Slipping the dog a piece of pizza crust may seem harmless, but it can cause a world of pain for both pet and owner.

Make some safe pet treats available for your guests. I like using thrift store sugar bowls for small treats, or cookie jars for larger ones, with labels that say “Safe Treats for Rover” on them. That way, people who need or want to spoil or reward your pets can do so safely.

A new pet during seems like a great gift idea, and we’ve all seen far too many movies that include a puppy in a box with a bow on top. While we love to get animals out of rescue/shelter situations, do it well before the holidays so the pet can settle in, and then put some small pet gifts under the tree. Or you could put those gifts under the tree, and the present a “gift certificate” that will allow the recipient to bring home the pet of their choice after the holidays.

We all know by now that poinsettias, mistletoe, and lilies are poisonous to pets, and tinsel, ribbons and cords can be chewing/swallowing risks. Limiting our pets’ access to these items may prevent an emergency vet visit, and we all know that’s not a fun or cheap adventure.

Many want to include our pets in the holiday feast, and there are many items that we can share with our pets. Turkey necks and giblets, handled and offered properly, can be amazing additions to our pet’s diet. Indeed, most meat products — presented so that they are not choking hazards, and in moderation to avoid upset tummies — are safe for our pets to consume. If the meats are not salted or spiced, they can be offered either raw or cooked. You will generally want to avoid high carb items (potatoes, carrots, apples), but greens added to a dog’s food bowl are a way of adding fresh food to the diet, and that’s never a bad thing.

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