The holidays are a crazy time for everyone, and pets are definitely included within that equation. Henna, our 7 year old pit bull baby, made it down to Florida with us like a champ three years ago and even since then, she’s had several changes.
From living with four people and another dog to being an “only dog” at our first home with just Nate and I, she’s been through a lot. And now that the holidays are upon us, we want to make sure that she is feeling safe and just as happy as we are this Christmas season. So, here are our top ten tips for keeping your pet (mostly for dogs) safe & happy during the holidays!
- Keep their routine. Dogs are creatures of routine and they find comfort in knowing what to expect. Although this season tends to get a little out of the ordinary as far as schedules, late night shopping, and having more company than usual, sticking to the basis of their routine will help them feel comfortable and secure.
- Make sure they meet & are comfortable with every guest that comes into your home. Ideally, we like to make sure that our pup meets each guest in smaller groups prior to having a large party. This way, she knows what to expect and isn’t bombarded by several new scents at once.
- Don’t allow guests to feed them food they are not used to. Pets with sensitive stomachs should not have any food they aren’t used to because serious health issues may occur. Certain foods like chicken wings can leave behind bones that splinter and could be fatal to an animal.
- Don’t put them in a separate room during holiday parties and get-togethers. Putting an animal in a room separate from people usually only breeds more anxiety. Often times, animals want to get acquainted with a new person simply by smelling them to familiarize themselves.
- Take them for a walk prior to having company to lower their anxiety level. If your pet isn’t used to having so many people and/or animals around, their anxiety levels may go through the roof when this happens. To lower the risk of this happening, a long walk can do wonders to calm them down.
- Make an effort to continue with the same rules. It’s easy to succumb to bending the rules when it comes to busy times, but pets thrive on routine and when a rule is broken once, they start to assume that it won’t be enforced to strictly. Keeping rules in place, helps them to understand what is expected of them while helping you to keep your peace of mind.
- Make sure all items (i.e. decorations, guests’ bags, etc.) are secured (perhaps in another room your pet can’t readily get to) and cannot harm your pet should they start sniffing around. People who live in homes without pets usually aren’t prone to exercise caution when putting down their things–from food to handbags. If your pet is one to get curious, leaving something out could be very dangerous.
- Make sure when introducing new pets to your home, that they meet outside on “neutral turf” prior to entering the house. This just happened to us last year and we learned the hard way! While our pup isn’t an aggressive dog, she does get a little turf possessive since she’s been the only animal in our home. Last year, my parents’ dog, a young boxer girl, to our house for the first time and the two got a little persnickety since she the first time they met was INSIDE the house. This year, we had them meet outside and my dad and husband took both dogs on a walk together to ease the tension. Now, they are inseparable!
- Pay extra attention to them. This holiday should be special for them too and with our busy lives (no doubt made busier by all the extra activities with family, friends, and shopping) it can be easy to let certain things slip that your pet may be looking forward to. Special time with you on the couch or an extra walk may be just the ticket.
- Be sure to have a special toy nearby while you are opening presents to keep them occupied. Every pet I’ve ever had loves to get into the thick of things when presents are being opened in the morning. To prevent this from becoming an issue, open their gifts first and get them occupied with a new toy while you proceed to busting loose those gifts of your own!
- Explore Kong toy recipes to keep your dog busy while you are away. Recently, Henna was caught ripping up a piece of carpet on the stairs, and we thought to ourselves, “what could we have done to allow this to happen?” Come to realize, we have been gone a little more than usual with holiday parties, shopping, and running around to get things ready for my family this week. We did some research and found that she needs to have “a job” to keep her busy during the day, so we bought a large extra strong Kong toy and have been filling it with peanut butter, freezing it at night, and giving it to her to gnaw on when we leave. We found these new recipes as well that we will be trying!