Okaw Veterinary Clinic

140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953

(217)253-3221

www.okawvetclinic.com

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Contents:

Everyone have a Happy Holiday (Pets Too)!

 

 

Everyone have a Happy Holiday (Pets Too)!

Holiday gatherings are here at last, no matter if we are ready for them or not. Our pet dogs and cats are a part of the holiday, so consider what your pet needs as the season gets underway. It is not uncommon for me to have a call about a pet being nervous, not eating, or even being "grouchy" when there is a lot of people over for Thanksgiving or Christmas. There are ways to decrease stress for your pet - and you too!

First consider the age, health and temperament of your pet when guests are expected. Older pets that are arthritic or blind will have difficulty getting out of the way at a holiday party. A dog may be lying comfortably in their own bed, but they are resting with one eye open, on the lookout for toddlers, clumsy adults or other visiting pets. This may have them a little tense and apprehensive about the whole gathering, which results in pain from holding their body tense, or constantly moving around. Young pets may be very excited jumping and running around which can add to people and pet stress. Both dogs and cats of all ages need to stick to their routines. When their routine gets messed up, so do the pets. Be sure to maintain the feeding, walking, play times no matter what your guests want.

Toddlers are especially at risk of being bitten by even the friendliest dog. Toddlers are right up in the face of a dog, they do not follow verbal instructions from adults very well, and it seems the more adults there are at a gathering, the fewer eyes are on the child. Toddlers have high pitched voices and who can tell what they are going to do next? Certainly a dog or cat can't. An older dog is likely to be tense around active little humans. If a cat feels cornered by a toddler, the cat may strike. If the owners have not made a quiet place for the dog or cat to go, there is a big risk of a bite.

What about the furry guests? When your family brings along their beloved pet, it is a direct competitor to the food, beds, attention and areas even if it does not look that way. Often the host pets may act "jealous" but they are not. Competition for resources is a normal feeling when a new pet comes in - kind of like your sister coming in without her own clothes, toothbrush or food to eat. I bet you would feel a sense of competition in that case.

So, keep your pet and everyone happy by planning ahead. I have a few suggested scenarios that should help make the holidays happy for everyone, especially our pets.

If your dog/cat wants to hide, gets "grouchy" or cannot settle down - they are very anxious. Not a little nervous - they are very nervous!!! If guests are coming over just once a year, then board your pet for the day. If that is not possible, set up a room far away from the action with food, water and any suggested treatments to reduce anxiety. Play the radio on a rock or pop music station to muffle out all the sounds. If someone wants to visit your pet, you decide if it is okay. Younger well socialized pets may do fine with many people over, but after a few hours they have usually had enough and are seeking a quiet area. Put your pet there if you notice them avoiding people. Constantly going from room to room, is a way of an animal trying to find a place to get away. Your dog or cat will thank you for this. Believe me, they do not see this as punishment- rather a relief.

For guest pets, be sure to provide separate (in separate rooms or areas) food and water dishes, lots of individual play and attention. The host dogs are fed first, out the door first, etc. Maintaining this hierarchy will reduce the likelihood of "grouchiness" and problems. Guest pets may be a challenge to the ?host? pet in ways that are hard for us to see. Tensions may be escalating unnoticed until a scuffle over food commonly occurs. Often veterinary emergency clinic have to treat the case of the guest dog or cat fight, so don't bring your pet unless it is invited.

Keep the little people and furry family members safe and friendly. Baby gates are great! Have the gate up creating easy way to separate dogs from the family areas that are noisy and chaotic. Toddlers can toss treats over the gate to positively reinforce the dogs and be safe. I cannot count the number of calls about bites with active toddlers and dogs or cats dodging under furniture because they could not get away from the little ones. For cats, get the decor off the chests and bookcases to open up areas for the cats to jump out of the way.

You are a loving parent/grandparent to separate your pets from the guests that stress them. Don't feel guilty - you are being responsible for yourself, your pets and your guests. If your pets are really upset, or your guests unpredictable, get your boarding appointment now. Boarding facilities fill up fast so do not wait. If that is not an option, set the rest room up now and have your pet stay in there for an hour or 2 starting a week before the big day. Maybe you will want some alone time there too!