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How to Keep Pets Happy & Healthy This Holiday

Here are 10 ways to make sure your pets are stress-free and cared for this holiday season, from Susan Marucci of Pet Aesthetics.

Froggy. Photo courtesy of Susan Marucci.
Froggy. Photo courtesy of Susan Marucci.
The holiday season is a time for celebrating with friends and family, but when humans get busy, sometimes pets can get lost in the shuffle.

Susan Marucci of Pet Aesthetics, 134 Main St. South, Southbury, offers up some helpful tips to assure that every member of the family enjoys a safe, festive season.

1. Holiday gatherings can be fun, however many pets can become overwhelmed by even small gatherings of unfamiliar people. Some pets love the extra attention from visiting relatives and friends while others seek solitude in their favorite hiding spot. Pets may need their personal space
away from the commotion. Cats easily find their own hide out but dogs may need a little help. Designate a “Safe Zone” for your pet. This safe zone should be guest-free to serve as a quiet retreat for your pet, such as a bedroom, or a family den. Provide plenty of water, and food. If your
pet is accustomed to a crate make it accessible, complete with a bed or fluffy blanket.

2- Keep your pet as close to his daily eating and exercise routine as possible. A quiet long walk can help relax and quiet an anxious dog. Some pets may respond to all the increased activity in the home with a change in behavior, such as whining, gnawing on furniture or eliminating in the
house. Make sure to schedule “potty” breaks.

3-Have plenty of toys, and treats on hand. Your pet will love having that extra special bone or chewy to play with. Interactive pet toys are a great way to occupy an anxious mind.

4-Spend a little extra “quality time” with your dog to assure him he is not forgotten.

5-Family and friends may want to share holiday foods with the beloved family pet, but too many table scraps can cause stomach upset, diarrhea or worse, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) which can be caused by eating fatty foods. Keep some of your pet’s favorite treats on hand. Your pet will love his usual yummy treat just as much as table scraps. Your guests will be less tempted to give table scraps if treats are close by and available to hand out.

6-Everyone appreciates a pet with good manners. A pet that interacts gracefully while being surrounded by family and friends is priceless and makes a lifetime of memories.

7-Be careful with holiday decorations. Common yuletide plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, ivy and holly berries can be poisonous, possibly even fatal. Tree adornments, Christmas and Hanukkah candles can cause choking or severe intestinal problems if swallowed.

8-Christmas trees and pets can be a troublesome combination. First, be certain the tree is well secured. Place decorations above paw height and use string to hang the bulbs instead of hooks, which are easily dislodged. If possible, use non-breakable ornaments. Avoid using tinsel or angel hair. Cats and dogs alike are intrigued by the sparkle which can cause intestinal problems. Cords for lights should be made inaccessible to pets. Keep the tree reservoir covered if possible. The chemicals which are added to the water to increase your tree’s longevity are toxic to pets. In return, make sure to provide adequate drinking water for your pet.

9-Know when your pet has had enough socialization and stimulation. Pacing, lip licking, whining and scratching are a few “stress” signs. Allowing your pet to have scheduled social time visits with guests is a great way to avoid too much stimulation at one time.

10–When traveling with a pet, pack a familiar blanket or bed, and toy. Traveling with a crate helps keep your pet calm if he needs a quiet, safe place when in unfamiliar territory.

Most importantly, relax and enjoy your holiday time with family, friends and your furry beloved pet.

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