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Pet Stress And Safety During The Holidays

December 15, 2018

The holidays are a stressful time for us humans. Life becomes even more fast paced and demanding. But it is stressful for our pets as well. Always tuned in to our mindsets and level of energy, our pets recognize the stress and pressure that the holidays can create. The holidays mean parties, dinners, gift exchanges and get-togethers. Whether you will be the host of one of these events, 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 enjoys the social interaction. Visiting and visitors If you are the “visitee,” you will want to do a little preparation before the guests arrive. Most of us consider our pets to be members of the family, and we enjoy having them with us as we celebrate good times. However, when our pets are not used to having more than a few people around, they can get overly excited, and things can stop being relaxed and enjoyable. 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 its exuberance or might not be a fan of crowds, 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. Be loving and supportive of your pet’s needs. 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 accustomed to sleeping in a crate, bring it along so he can sleep in his familiar space. It is advised that you keep 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. These unhappy events do occur and are preventable. If you cannot fit a crate into your car, you can use a pet approved safety belt/harness to keep your pet in its seat. Make sure your pet is wearing identification at all times, and pack an emergency first aid kit for pets in case of an emergency. Remember 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 maintained, 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? Inoculations should always be required for the safety of the pets in their care. 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 and more relaxed your holiday celebrations will be. Keep to a routine One of the best things you can do throughout the season is to stick 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 and ignored by all of the activity and distractions. Safety Make sure you know how to get to your 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before there’s an emergency. Talk with your veterinarian in advance to find out where you would need to take your pet, and plan your travel route so you’re not trying to find your way when stressed. Always keep these numbers posted in an easy-to-find location in case of emergencies. Keep people food away from pets. If you want to share holiday treats with your pets, make or buy treats formulated just for them. Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a door frame using fishing line to secure it. Water additives for Christmas trees can be hazardous to your pets. Do not add aspirin, sugar, or anything to the water for your tree if you have pets in the house. Ornaments can cause hazards for pets. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of the reach of pets. Tinsel and other holiday decorations also can be tempting for pets to eat. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Breakable ornaments or decorations can cause injuries. Be vigilant and proactive to insure that you and your pet(s) enjoy the holidays together, calmly and safely. Dog bless. Resources: PetMD, American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Judy Endo writes about pets. contact her at judyendo@outlook.com.

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