Remember that when you celebrate the holidays at your house with family and friends, it’s a special event for your pet. And this awareness can spell the difference between an enjoyable party and one marred by misadventures, disgruntles guests who wish they had never come, and a misbehaving pet that hopes they will leave real soon.
Puppies, in particular, may behave like young children, acting excited and inquisitive around lights, ornaments, candles, trees, unfamiliar foods, an influx of new people, and even a visiting pet.
Especially at holiday time, you must “pet proof” various areas of your house. Pets must be taught off-limits, such as nibbling of ornaments on the lower branches of trees, or sampling the foods on the coffee table.
In turn, guests must be told not to feed your pet, no matter what. Rich food and too much of it can spell gastrointestinal distress for your pet. When presents are opened, be aware of what you do with the ribbon, which presents a chocking danger. Mistletoe (Phoradendron species) is extremely toxic if eaten. Poinsettia is mildly toxic. Tinsel can get caught up in the intestine and cause obstructions. Guests must be careful not to leave outside doors open, allowing pets out where they can be exposed to the dangers of passing cars. Since the typical household routine is forsaken for the holidays anyway, you might set up a schedule for your guests to walk your dog. “When you go outside for a breath of fresh air, feel free to take the dog with you”, is what you might say to your visitors.
Don’t be reluctant to tell your guests what your dog is and is not allowed to do. There is nothing wrong with guests knowing there are rules. As your pet matures, it can learn the right and wrong behaviors for the holidays, but remember that will all come in time. Although it depends on the pet, most pets will not represent a major problem. Most pets will readily adjust to more people, more food, and the holiday excitement. But remember, be especially careful about your guests bringing other pets into your home, your home is your pet’s territory and this may pose for confrontation.
If you have any other questions, or if a problem arises contact Dr. Selmer at 631-367-7387 immediately…otherwise have a safe, happy, and healthy Holiday Season. Don’t forget, whether it is Christmas or Hanukkah at your home, spread the holiday cheer and celebrate with your pet. Nothing compares to the companionship of a well cared for pet.
Michel A. Selmer, D.V.M.
Committed to your pets health