Your house is decked out for the holidays and you're continually throwing open the doors and welcoming in the guests. Friends and family mill about and make life and the holidays happy and fun, right? For the humans in the house, that is probably true, for the pets in your house maybe not so much.
I know in our house, two of our cats are very social and will greet every visitor as will Spenser. Henrietta and the other two cats are not fond of strangers or noises so for them a houseful of people is a stressful situation. What can you do? Well regardless of how much the animals love visitors, they are never permitted by the door to greet them because the risk of one of them slipping out the door makes me a nervous wreck. As for the three that are not fond of visitors, I make sure I crack a door in a room that no one else is allowed into and offer them a place where they can get away from the hustle and bustle.
As any animal owner is aware, if you have a small dog, she could run the risk of being stepped on or the big dogs could get a bit anxious about having toddlers in the house who are face-level with them. too many people milling about a pet's food dish could lead to stress and even snappy behavior.
If you have cats, the risk of having a tail stepped on, being petted "the wrong way" by a well-meaning child or even the risk of your cat dashing out the door when relatives and friends are making their way in is all too possible. My cats, thankfully, run the opposite direction and hide under the couch or on top of the desk if they even hear the UPS man come to the door, but I still keep a watchful eye that they don't make their way toward an open door.
You should plan now for how you will handle the guests and your pets throughout this busy holiday season. Here is my advice:
- If your pets aren't accustomed to toddlers and/or strangers he could be prone to bite. Any animal, no matter how mild mannered has that tendency when faced with stressors. Make certain he has a safe spot in which to escape from the guests. If your pet finds comfort in the safety of her crate, make it available so they can escape to that sanctuary if they need it.
- Alcohol and caffeine are also toxic to your pet so keep them out of reach. Because some alcoholic drinks are sweet, your pet may be tempted to give them a taste.
- Make the parents of the toddlers aware that your pets aren't accustomed to children and work with them to show them the correct way to approach your cats or dogs. No one, child or adult, should put his or her face down by your dog and keep everyone away from the food dishes.
- People unfamiliar with your pets, or any pets, don't realize the temptation an open door could pose. You need to be vigilant and keep an eye on the door. If the noise level gets to be too much inside the house, your dog or cat may see an open door as a welcome respite and dash out.
- Table scraps are not healthy for your pets — you know it but your guests may think that sneaking Fido or Fluffy a bit of turkey or dressing is a good idea. Tell them that your pets are not allowed table scraps under any circumstances. Also, be aware that many people still feel that gnawing on a bone is good for your pets — that may be the case with the correct type of bone — but turkey or chicken bones can shatter and pose a real health problem (even death) to your pet. Bones and other treats should likely be avoided when you have a houseful of strangers as your pet may become very territorial.
- You may even find yourself tempted to toss your pet a few bites of turkey and dressing or mashed potatoes with gravy. You might think they'd relish a treat, but food that rich can wreak havoc with their digestive systems and you don’t want Fido to be yarking on your carpet, right?
- Grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate are all toxic to your pet at one level or another. Do not let your pet eat any of these items. Make sure all of your guests know that your pet eats a balanced diet and cannot have any table scraps.
If your pet is crate trained and likes her crate, make sure it is available if she needs to go there and burrow into her blankets to get away from the crowds. Also, make sure none of your guests sneak treats from the table to your pets.