November and December is a busy time of year. There are holidays to prepare for. There are gifts to shop for, guests to invite over, travel to be done, even one evening of dinner and socializing can be a lot more activity than a night the during rest of the year.
Amid all the activity, it’s important that we consider our pets. The holidays can be stressful for pets, with all the additional comings and goings and changes in the daily routine.
If you are having company over, consider designating a “safe spot” for your pet. A room where he is comfortable that is in the quietest part of the house.
If your dog is truly not comfortable with a lot of strangers coming into the home, it might be wise to put him in a boarding kennel for the evening. This will eliminate the chance of him becoming overwhelmed and possibly deciding that you need to be protected from your guests. If he is sociable, he can come out and greet people, but make sure he always has a place to get away from everything. Even the friendliest of pets can become stressed by a holiday party.
If you are traveling and decide to take your pet with you, make sure that you arrange it in your travel plans. Airplanes have pet restrictions and often require advance notice of pets that will be on board. Be sure you know the pet policies of any hotels you plan on staying at. Some hotels have a size restriction, some limit pets to certain rooms, and those rooms could be booked. Don’t wait too long before making reservations.
If you will be traveling with your pet, make sure to have a packing list for him that includes a crate and his food, water, dishes, leashes and collars, and maybe a couple of toys. Get the pet used to the carrier well in advance of travel, as well as used to car rides, especially if you will be driving to your destination. If your pet is prone to car sickness, it might be better to make arrangements to have someone care for him at home or to board him. Crates can be a lifesaver while traveling with pets. If you stop for gas or food or anything else, you don’t want the pet jumping out of the car when a door opens. A pet who is stressed from the travel and in an unfamiliar area can quickly become scared and run off.
The holiday season is a very busy time of year for boarding kennels and pet sitters. Many are booked up months in advance, so it is important that you make arrangements with them as early as possible. Before leaving your pet, make a list of contact phone numbers where you can be reached while you are away, as well as veterinary contact information and instructions as to what should be done in a veterinary emergency. Make sure you have enough food and any medication he might need for him for the duration of his stay, plus a little extra.
With all of the holiday meals, you might want to let your pet enjoy some of the food. If you do, it’s important that you just give him a small piece of these treats and make sure he still eats his regular diet. Too much holiday food can be very difficult on your pets digestive system, making him sick.
All of the decorations put up for the holidays make for a number of additional hazards for your pet. Garlands and ornaments are sometimes mistaken for toys. Every year around the holidays, we hear of pets who ate ornaments. Hang them high enough that the pet can’t reach them, or limit them to a room that can be off limits to your pet.
Also plants, such as Christmas trees and poinsettias are toxic to pets. Take extra care to prevent curious animals from nibbling on them. Put them in inaccessible locations, use baby gates or scat mats to prevent access, and don’t leave your pet unsupervised with the plants.
Often people think that pets would make for a great holiday gift. In actuality, they don’t. One reason why they don’t is that if they are going to be a surprise, then it is impossible for the recipient to be a part of the selection process, in which case the pet might be incompatible with his new owners. If you want to give a pet as a holiday gift, it is better to give an IOU, with perhaps some pet care items, and then let the individual choose the pet he truly wants.
The holiday season is not the best time of year to acquire pets. All of the traveling and activities make it very difficult for a new pet and his owner to set up a much needed routine and to bond correctly. The stress of going to a new home on the pet is compounded by the stress of the holidays. Again, it is best to wait until the holidays are over so that your new pet can settle into a quiet and loving home when you have time to attend to his needs during the adjustment period.
By Liz Shulman
Liz Shulman has over 20 years experience with animals, and 10 years with dogs. Learn more about dogs at http://www.corgipower.com/