Stress-Free Holidays for Pets

Stress-Free Holidays for Pets

 

The holidays have arrived, and if you are one of the fortunate ones with  friends and family that you like to spend time with, the holidays mean parties,  dinners, gift exchanges and get-togethers. Whether you will be the host of one  of these fetes, or whether you’ll be packing up the family and pet for a  cross-town trip to visit family and/or friends, know before you go how you are  going to keep everyone calm and comfortable, so that everyone has  a good time.

Visiting …  Visitors

If you are the “visitee,” you will want to do a little preparation before the  guests arrive. Many of us consider our pets to be members of the family, and we  enjoy having them with us in as we celebrate good times. But, when our pets are  not used to have more than a few people around, they can get overly excited, and  things can stop being fun. The jumping, the grabbing food from hands and tables,  the barking … all of these things can lead to some embarrassing situations, and  can even frighten some guests who are not accustomed to having animals around.  In the weeks before the event, take some time to work on your pet’s manners and  reinforce obedience training. You might try some small gatherings with some pet  friendly people who can help you to reinforce your pet’s manners, so that when  the bigger party night comes, your pet will already be prepared.

If, on the other hand, you know that your pet will not be able to hold back  his exuberance, set aside a safe room where he can stay for the duration of the  event. Make the space comfortable with a bed or rug, water, toys, and maybe some  treats. Close this area off to the guests so that you can be sure that your pet,  and your guests, are safe. Remember to either tell your guests that your pet  should be left alone, tape a sign to the door saying “do not open,” or place a  hook and eye lock on the door so that people know that it is not to be opened.  The last thing you want is for a very excited pet to dash through the house, and  possibly out the door to the outside of the house.

Traveling With Your  Pet

Leaving the familiarity of home can provoke anxiety in people and animals. If  you are traveling by car, be sure to bring along some of your pet’s favorite  toys, a blanket or pillow bed, and his regular food. If your pet is used to  sleeping in a crate, bring it along so he can sleep in his familiar space.

We advise keeping pets in a travel safe crate so that the animal is not able  to move freely though the car. This covers a few bases. Keeping animals in  travel crates prevents them from getting underfoot or on your lap while you are  driving — an obvious hazard — it prevents them from being thrown from the car  should an accident occur, and it prevents them from getting free/running away  during rest stops or after minor accidents have occurred. We can tell you that  these unhappy events do occur and are reported in the news frequently enough to  make them worth noting. If you cannot fit a crate into your car, you can use a  pet approved safety belt/harness to keep your pet in her seat, where she  belongs.

On that note, make sure your pet is wearing identification at all times, and  pack an emergency first aid kit for pets in case of an emergency. And don’t  forget to take frequent breaks to allow for rest and relief.

If You Leave Your Pet  Behind — Boarding

Before choosing a boarding facility for your pet, take a quick tour of the  facility to check out the accommodations. You will want to be sure that it is  clean and well kept, and that there is ample space given for the animals to  exercise daily.

Have your questions ready before you go. Things you may want to know are: how  many animals are kept together in one space; can you bring your pet’s food so  that his digestive system will not be upset by an abrupt change in food; will  you be able to bring along toys and other familiar comfort objects from  home?

If you do not feel comfortable with a boarding facility, whether for your  pet’s emotional comfort or because of health concerns, and you do not have the  option of taking your pet along with you, give yourself plenty of time to ask  around the neighborhood for someone to pet-sit in your home or theirs, or do  some research into local pet-sitters that will come to your home to check in and  care for your pet, or will take your pet into their home. The better prepared  you are, the less stress there will be for you and your pet, and the better your  holiday celebrations will be.

Keep to a  Routine

One of the best things you can do throughout it all is to stay to a familiar  schedule. This means taking walks at the same time that you always do, and  feeding at the same time as usual. It might help to create an alarm system on  your mobile phone to remind you of your pet’s daily routine. Also, don’t forget  to take time to play and show affection, so that your pet does not feel thrown  off balance by all of the activity and distractions.