A Guide to Keeping Your Pets Happy and Healthy During the Holidays.
By Malcolm Mayhew
We all know that the holidays bring good cheer, fun and quality family time. Let’s face it, though: This time of year, for many of us, can be stressful. Cooking for 20 people, hunting down the latest game console for the kids, and trying to keep your sanity while your in-laws are in town - it can be enough to make even the most laid-back person pull their hair out.
But the truth is you may not be the only one in your household affected by holiday stresses. The holidays can stress out our beloved pets, too.
“Any change in the home or daily routine can be a stresser for pets,” says Dr. Genna Mize, a Technical Services Veterinarian at Virbac. “So you can only imagine what sort of dissonance the holidays can introduce into their lives.”
If you’re celebrating the holidays this season, in ways large or small, it may be impossible to completely shield your pet from stress. But here are a few tips on how to make their lives a little easier during this fun but hectic time of year.
Make your holiday tree “pet friendly”:
When it comes to holiday trees, cat owners may have it a little tougher than dog owners. Naturally curious, cats and kittens love to try to climb colorfully decorated trees; bat around ornaments and lights; and nibble on the needles. Because your holiday tree is all for them, right?
A few precautions are necessary in order for holiday trees and cats to co-exist. First, wrap the base of the tree in foil, then cover with a tree skirt. Cats don’t like the way foil feels on their paws.¹ Also, avoid using glass ornaments, which can break easily. It’s also a good idea to put a bell on your tree. That way, when your cat starts messing with the tree, you’ll know it.
Create a safe, private place for your pet:
Some pets love to be showered with attention. Others, not so much. “If you have an anxious dog who is leery of strangers, give it a quiet, private space away from the party,” Dr. Mize suggests. “You might even consider giving your pet a new safe toy or dental chew to distract them. A supplement, such as ANXITANE® (L-Theanine) Chewable Tablets to help quell anxiety, might also help accommodate a nervous pet.”
Try not to disrupt their routines:
Keep their feeding, walking and playing schedules as normal as possible.
Don’t feed them from the table:
As tempting as it is, and no matter how adorable they look while they’re begging for food, refrain from slipping them pieces of grandma’s cooking, Dr. Mize says. It can be harmful to their health, even fatal.² “It is of utmost importance to keep food and other typical non-edible temptations away from your pets' reach,” she says. “Ensure all food is securely stored when your pet is not under direct supervision and that any potentially dangerous objects cannot be accessed by your pet. This includes harmful festive plants which, at a minimum, can cause gastrointestinal upset.”
Avoid loud noises: Who doesn’t love fireworks? Most likely, your pets. Fireworks are often the star attraction at New Year’s Eve celebrations but the sudden bursts of noise they create can make pets jittery and agitated. Keep pets inside while fireworks are in use and periodically reassure them that everything’s OK.
On behalf of myself and everyone at Virbac, we wish you and your pets a Happy Holiday Season!