Before we sit down with family and friends to a Christmas spread of great food and good cheer, there’s planning, shopping, cleaning the house, and baking. Even if you aren’t hosting a family gathering, there’s time spent searching for the perfect gift for someone special. The days leading up to Christmas can be hectic and filled with excitement. Christmas trees are put up and decorated. Garland, mistletoe, Christmas plants, and other decorations brighten up the home. It’s easy to forget how these changes, and extra time away from home can affect your dog or cat. Pets don’t understand what all the fuss is about, but you can make your pet’s Christmas merry and stress free with these reminders.
Some pets are eager to act as greeters when people arrive, but not all pets enjoy company. With the excitement of seeing old friends and family members during the holidays, an opened door is an invitation to an overly excited, shy, or timid pet to sneak outside unnoticed. When company is arriving and leaving, put your pet in a safe room. Shy or timid pets might prefer spending time in a cozy room away from the crowd. Make sure they have plenty of food and water, favorite toys, and a comfortable place to bed down. To make sure someone doesn’t let your pet out, add a note to the door that says “Do not enter. Keep closed.”
If your pet enjoys being around people, monitor him around people food, and alcoholic drinks. With more goodies sitting around, pets can find people food that’s toxic to them. Chocolate, raisins, grapes, nuts, alcohol, yeast dough, xylitol, bones, and fatty meat trimmings are just a handful of people food that’s poisonous to pets, and can turn a Christmas celebration into a mad dash to the vet to save your pet’s life. To avoid a pet with gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea or vomiting, stick to their regular food. Let your guests know you don’t want them to give a begging pet any food or drink. Keep the trash can where your pet can’t get into it. Write your vet’s emergency phone number, and the Pet Poison Helpline number – 800-213-6680 – down and keep it where you can quickly find them.
Tinsel, holiday plants, burning candles, liquid potpourri, Christmas tree lights, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, yarn, pine needles, and chemicals in Christmas tree water to preserve the tree are dangerous to pets who chew on and ingest decorations or drink water from the tree stand. Dogs and cats can get an electrical shock from chewing on a string of plugged in lights. An inquisitive cat around a burning candle or a dog’s excited tail can knock candles over. Be aware of where you place your decorations, and keep them up high where your pet can’t get to them. Tinsel can be deadly, not because it’s toxic, but because if swallowed it can damage the intestinal tract, and leave you with an expensive vet bill.
Maintain your pet’s normal routine
Dogs and cats like to know what they will be doing at certain times of the day, and they don’t like change. They want their meals at the same approximate time everyday. Dogs look forward to their normal walk schedule, and both dogs and cats know when it’s time to play because of the routine you established with them. Keeping them on their daily routine, even when you’re busy shopping, baking, decorating, or entertaining at home helps reduce their stress and anxiety during the holiday season.
Daily exercise and playing with your pet
An anxious pet is more likely to develop bad behavior, especially dogs that have their daily walk routine put on hold. Regular exercise keeps your dog from becoming hyper, stimulates his mind, keeps him in shape, and tires him out. Playing helps pets release excess energy, which reduces anxiety and stress. To your pet, the time you spend with them is special, and one of the best ways to strengthen your bond is by playing and spending time with your dog or cat. It can also help you relax during the holidays.
Give Yourself some “Me” time
It can be stressful searching stores for those perfect gifts, and trying to create a Christmas to remember. Allowing yourself some “me” time to unwind and take a deep breath keeps you in the Christmas spirit when you are dealing with other shoppers, more people in your home, and excited or anxious pets that may get into trouble more than usual.
Dogs and cats don’t do things on purpose to irritate us. They are curious creatures who enjoy investigating new smells, and things in the home that normally aren’t there. All of the Christmas decorations found in the home are interesting. But, can be dangerous to pets looking for something to play with or checking out a scent they picked up. One rule of thumb is, if a decoration is precious to you, or could pose a danger to a cat or dog, make sure it’s up where your pet can’t get to it. Be patient when your pet does misbehave. It’s an exciting time of the year for them, too.
When all is said and done, the best gifts aren’t found in a store. They come from within, like time, love, patience, and forgiveness. As far as pets are concerned, their Christmas is merry and stress free when they are safe with their family – the people they love.
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