Help Your Pet Manage His Holiday Stress

Give Guests a Petiquette Lesson

Your guests may not have pets and may have misconceptions about the best ways to interact with them — and your pets may have quirks of their own that influence the way they react to people. Give visiting friends and family a heads up, so they don’t make mistakes or scare your pets.

You can offer general advice (not everyone knows that some cats may be more friendly if you do not make direct eye contact, for example) or specific tips about your pets (how your dog likes to be petted or if your cat is afraid of loud noises). And you should always caution guests about any behavior that might result in a nip or scratch ("Please don't pick up the cat — it scares her, and when she's scared, she bites").

Keep a close eye on visiting children. Their erratic movements and high-pitched voices can startle your pets, especially if they aren’t used to the presence of kids. Make sure your littlest guests don’t try to grab at, pick up, chase after or ride on your pets. Tell them the pet rules, and then make sure they follow them. And never, ever leave a child and a pet together without adult supervision.

Limit interactions between your pets and visiting pets. If possible, keep them separated unless they already know and like each other. And just like with children, be sure to supervise all interactions to head off any possible trouble.

Seek Veterinary Help

Some fearful, anxious or stressed pets can benefit from a little pharmaceutical intervention. Ask your veterinarian about natural and prescription solutions that may help pets stay calm. Think "Silent Night" in a bottle. These include pheromone sprays or diffusers, supplements that help your pet “chill,” and anxiolytic drugs that can have a relaxing effect. You can also ask your veterinarian about a new medication for dogs with noise phobias to help them tune out the Christmas carols, jangling bells, party chatter and New Year's fireworks.

Happy howlidays!

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