The holiday season is here, and with it comes the usual mix of parties and holiday gatherings with friends and family. And with over 70% of pet owners in the US now considering our pets to be family, of course most of us want to include them in the holiday frolicking.
But are pets and holiday parties a good mix? While holiday parties can be fun for you, they can be stressful for even the most well behaved, friendliest pet. What can you do to prepare your pet for a houseful of people when planning your holiday soiree? Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic explores, here.
Pets and Holiday Parties
While some pets love to meet new people, others can become overwhelmed in a crowd. Here are some meet and greet ideas to love.
Stagger your entries – ask your guests to arrive within a few minutes of one another, instead of in a large crowd. This will help your pet to not be quite so overwhelmed.
Formal introductions – a formal meet and greet that allows your pet and your guests to feel safe and comfortable is often the way to go. For dogs and cats alike, a baby gate can be useful for this situation. It allows your pet to greet new friends on his own terms, and prevents jumping and other excitable behavior.
Create a calm space – even the most social dog or cat can get overwhelmed with all the guests. Create a safe and quiet room for your pet to retreat to if he needs some space. Never force your pet to socialize or you risk creating a fearful and anxious pet.
Give Guests a Petiquette Lesson
Your guests can help to keep your pets safe, comfortable, and happy during holiday parties, too. You simply need to give them some guidelines ahead of time. Be sure that your guests know you have pets and that they’re comfortable with that. Be aware of any guests who are on crutches or in a wheelchair, and of any children who may attend. You may need special accommodations in those circumstances. Other considerations:
Treat guidelines – make sure your guests know your rules around feeding your pets from the table and/or people foods. Many holiday foods are toxic to pets, and one wrong bite can also lead to pancreatitis, a foreign body, or GI upset.
General advice – most guests know something about pet behavior, but some may not own pets or be aware of animal behavior. You can give them some guidance about general animal behavior (avoid sudden moves) and specifics about your pet, too (the cat doesn’t like to be picked up).
Ins and Outs – be sure to communicate to your guests that your pets should not be let outside during the party. Leave notes on all doors that alert your guests not to leave them open and to make sure the pets don’t escape. Better yet, make sure this doesn’t happen by putting your pet in her safe room during arrivals and departures.
A word about children – if you have little guests coming, make sure they are aware of the rules around your pets and that they know how to be safe around animals. Never leave children and pets together unattended. If your pets are stressed around children, it’s best to let them spend the party in their safe, quiet room.
During the holiday party fun, you may be busy with guests and hosting. But, don’t forget to spend a few moments each hour paying attention to your pet. She’ll be craving your reassurance and attention, no matter how much socialization she’s getting from guests and others. So don’t forget to reward her for her good behavior and lend her some confidence that she’s on the right track.
If you have questions or concerns about pets and holiday parties, be sure to reach out to us before your next holiday gathering for more tips and ideas. We’re here to help!