So the family is coming over for Christmas dinner or to celebrate Hanukah and you are scrambling! Where am I going to fit everyone? The chaos at the door, the dog barking, the cat jumping into the tree or onto the party-sandwich platter, the suitcases, the gifts, your sister’s toddler – who’s watching who?
I myself have had a few incidents over the holidays…. a few visits to my clinic to induce vomiting in my dog and give him activated charcoal for eating the dark chocolate he found in my mother’s suitcase on the floor! A few cat scratches when kids visiting decided they wanted to play baby-doll with Frank our cat… he had other ideas!
So how can we try to keep everyone safe with this insanity that is the holidays? Prevent, prevent, prevent (and well, maybe a little glass of wine or two for you)…..
If your dog is excitable and you know you’re having people over who don’t like dogs or are afraid of them, then consider keeping your dog in another area of the house, like in his crate, behind a gate, etc.
This is not a punishment!
Your dog can have his holiday dinner too, in the form of a yummy treat, time- occupying toy, or stuffed Kong. If your dog is not able to be separated from everyone because he is SO social and panics when alone, then consider having someone take him for the night or put on a long lead and head harness so you have him with you all the time. We call this an “umbilical” cord. If he’s attached to your waist, you have both hands free but you always know where he is and what people are ‘doing to him’.
If people have allergies, let them know you will do your best to vacuum and clean the sheets before they come and will keep the cats and dogs out of their rooms, but maybe bringing some antihistamines along would be a good idea…
Keep dog and cat cookies at the front door so when guests come, they can quickly introduce themselves to the furry four-legged family in a positive way. It is also a great time to explain to your guests how to and how not to pet the dog/cat, to leave them alone if they are sleeping and to always ask before touching them.
Being PRESENT for all interactions between your pets and guests is extremely important.
We cannot expect our four-legged family members to be poked and prodded, hugged and kissed by people and children they don’t know. And this is how bites happen.
Keep your pets safe by removing all tinsel, ribbon, and low-hanging ornaments.
Ask your guests if they have any food items in their bags and if so, to keep them closed and up high so the dogs and cats are unable to get into them. Beware of dangerous foods and products for your pets: chocolate, raisins and grapes, onions, coffee grinds, bones, anti-freeze and alcohol are just a few. Make sure you call your veterinarian to find out what their hours are over the holidays and where you should go if something happens when they are closed.
Happy Holidays everyone!