Ah, the sights, the sounds and the smells of the holidays! For some pets, the holidays are a cornucopia of joy. A friendly dog loves the hustle and bustle; new people, new things and, best of all, good food stream into the house. For all he knows, the show is being put on for his benefit. It's like a never-ending car ride.
But the family cat views this as bedlam. She also sees it like a never-ending car ride. Her routine shattered and her peace of mind disturbed, she has precious few, if any, places to which she can escape.
The holidays put a lot of stress on everyone involved, some of it good and some of it bad. Our pets have to withstand any number of unusual circumstances that are novel each year because they don't have the chance to get used to them. These are just a few of the situations our pets have to deal with:
So what can you do to ease the burden? Three words: routine, routine, routine. Keeping as close as you can to your pet's normal schedule is the best antidote to holiday stress. Stay consistent with feeding times and amounts, and be on guard against illegal snacks.
Maintain his exercise, walking schedule and playtime. A tired pet is a happy pet. This advice, by the way, goes for people too. Exercise is a great stress reliever. If time is precious, combine your exercise with your pet's by setting aside a specific amount of time each day - 20 minutes for instance - for you both to play and work up a little healthy sweat. Staying in shape improves attitude and behavior in pets and people.
Getting your pet used to crowds in the home also helps. Bring your friends or family over to get your pet used to it, and reward him if he behaves correctly. Learn more points of etiquette and safety by seeing the story on guests and pets.
It is important to reserve a room for your pet to retreat to, equipped with his favorite toys, a bowl full of fresh water, some food perhaps, and clothing or blankets with your scent on it. This gives your pet a safe comfortable place to which he can retreat from the madness.
As for Christmas trees and holiday decorations, there are a lot of hazards your pet faces - it's important to know what to look for and how to secure your home.
Traveling during the holidays is stressful whether you bring a pet or not. Dogs usually travel better because they are by nature in love with car rides. Cats normally despise it, and who can blame them? Pre-planning is an absolute must, whether by car or by airline.
If you decide to put your pet in a kennel, don't try to find one at the last minute. Research the facilities in your area and ask around. A kennel should see to your pet's emotional needs as well as to his physical requirements. Be prepared to ask many questions when you visit a kennel in person.