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Maintaining your pet's stress during the holidays

Not all pets enjoy having company over. Here are some tips to make them more comfortable over the holidays.
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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As December begins, it is time for the rollercoaster of holidays to take over. Whether you are hosting guests or visiting family and friends, there is a chance you will encounter a pet.

With guests visiting a pet's home, the furry friend may become overwhelmed and stressed. 

There are several different tips for you to follow if you are planning on visiting homes with a furry companion or having people over with your pets.

First, if you are the one expecting guests in your home, you may want to prepare your pet. The American Kennel Club suggests the following:

  • Sticking to your pet's routine. This includes bathroom breaks, meal times, and exercise.
  • Brush up on training skills. This can also prevent your dog from jumping on guests, and taking food they shouldn't have.
  • Puppy proof your home. No matter what age your dog is, you may want to make sure that in the event your pet does stress out, they cannot get into anything that may be dangerous to them.

The website Dog Training Nation also has some recommendations for guests, so you don't overwhelm your host's pets.

  • Ignore the pet. This includes no eye contact with the pet, and don't pet it. Let the animal approach you on their own terms.
  • Do not advance towards the pet. Doing so forces the pet to get closer to a stranger. This can cause the pet to bark more, and make the pet uncomfortable. Only add another person into the mix if the pet is comfortable with approaching the first guest.
  • Something to do in advance is teach dogs patience. This teaches dogs that good things can happen around people. Good behavior can be awarded with a treat.
  • Get help. If you are struggling with a fearful or anxious dog, contact a positive reinforcement dog trainer.

Dogs are not the only ones who can stress out when it comes to having company. Cats can also get anxiety from the sudden influx of guests. Animal Wellness Magazine suggests looking at the holidays from the pet's perspective. Animals do not easily grasp why company is present, why there may be sudden decorations that possibly change their environment. For cats, the story is no different. For the cats who are stressed, make sure you have a room available for them to hide. Most cats are not fans of attention, or what they see as strangers, who try to pick them up.

Animal Wellness Magazine recommends the following for cat owners, who are expecting guests.

  • Discourage company from bringing their own furry friends along, some cats can become territorial when it comes to strange animals.
  • Make sure your guests, especially children, not to enter the room you've put aside for your cat.
  • If your cat does venture out of her room, ask guests to not approach or pick up the cat. This can scare them back into hiding.
  • If your guests are staying the night, make sure they are not staying in the room used as cat's quiet haven.

They also suggest using caution when it comes to children. Make sure they do not chase or pick up your cat. When they arrive, take a few minutes to show them how to properly greet your feline friend. Not all pets get anxiety when guests come over. There are some who are social butterflies. According to Pawsome Cats, there is still a chance the social cats would need a safe space.

  • Watch for over-stimulation on the cat. Over excitement may cause the cat to swipe or bite a guest.
  • Keep the front door closed. Sometimes cats like to wander, and sometimes they go outside unnoticed. Make sure all pets are microchipped or have identification on their collar.
  • Caution children not to chase or pick up your cat.
  • Friendly cats may want to observe from afar. They may want to watch the commotion from a cat tree. Do not force the cat to interact with company.

If you and your guests are planning on having a big dinner, make sure they do not give your pets any scraps. Even though the food may taste delicious to us, it can make your pets sick or even become fatal.

You may also want to be aware of any holiday decorations that may be within reach of your pet. The FDA recommends keeping tinsel and ribbons, salt-dough ornaments, holiday plants, and food and snack bags away from your cats and dogs. If they get ahold of these items, your four-legged friend could get sick and require an emergency trip to the vet. Cats may also want to grab ahold of some of those items. Hills Pet says Poinsettias, Pine trees, Mistletoe and Holly can be fatal to cats.

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