By Robbi Hess ~ Managing Editor Pet Calendar, Crimeless Cat Executive Story Editor, Chief Cat Herder
Pet Calendar: Stress-Free Family Holiday Month
Holidays are stressful. Let’s get real here. Between the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking and the traveling, there is a lot of family togetherness all in a short span of time. It can be stressful for the humans in the family and for our pets. Sure your dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and fish don’t have to worry about braving the crowds and baking mom’s famous pecan pie, but they may be faced wtih more noises, smells, people and tension in the family than they do during a typical day.
How can you alleviate your pet’s stress during the holidays? Here are a few ways we have found that work for our pets.
Give them a safe place. If your pet loves his or her crate, make certain it is an area they can get to it and get away from it all if they need to. This may mean rearranging a bit of furniture to allow space for the crate. You don’t want to put the crate in the middle of the action, place it in an out of the way area, but still where your pet can see you if he wants to. Put a few of his favorite toys inside and make sure he knows where it is if he needs a break.
Keep the kids away. If your pets live in an almost exclusively adult household, they may not know how to react to children or toddlers. Remember, too that a child may be face level with a dog and eye-to-eye contact could be seen as “aggressive” to a dog and that could lead to a bite. Keep the kids away from the pets. Elicit help from the parents to assure the kids are safe and well-mannered around the pets. Give your cats a safe space where they can perch up high and look at the goings on, but not be underfoot.
Don’t let your pets sample the people food. It’s tempting to give your pet some of the rich, delicious foods you’re serving your guests, but resist the urge. Unfamiliar foods may lead to your cleaning a lot of barf later on. Stick with their regular feeding times and with their usual foods. If you simply have to feed them from the table, keep a plate of cut up carrots and treat with those.
Lock them up. Your pets — cats especially — may fare better if they are in a quiet, safe space away from all of the activity. Put food, water, toys and a litter box in a room, close the door and let your cats enjoy the day away from the noisiness.
Stay away from the doors. With a rush of unfamiliar people coming into the house, your dog or cat may get scared and bolt out the open door — especially if people are dawdling in the door and are not watching out for the pets. Never let your dogs or cats be near an open door as they may run out and in the rush of people you may not notice it until hours later. Keep them safe by keeping them out of the doorway.
How can your pets help you stress-less?
- Take a dog or cat petting break. Petting an animal has been shown to lower your blood pressure.
- If you need to vent about Aunt Mabel, whisper it to your pet. This allows you to blow off steam without upsetting family members 🙂
- Unwind at the end of the day by sitting by your Christmas tree or in front of the television surrounded by your loving pets and count your blessings.
From our pet families to yours, have a happy holiday!