Help your pets through their holiday stress

As our year’s end is approaching, it is a time to reflect on the many fortunes we have – the family, friends, and even our pets that bring so much love into our homes. This is a time for much joy as we prepare for visits and festivities with our loved ones. With all the festivities and food, there are a few health hazards to your pet to be aware of: food and stress (these may be hazards for you, too!)

Time is not only stressful for you, it causes some stress for your pets as well.

There are several thoughts that may go through our pet’s minds as they watch their home transform for the holiday season.

There is a change in the daily routine – dinner may be an hour or two late due to holiday shopping. The furniture may get shifted due to the placement of a tree. Our animals can sense our many anxieties about the tree – they want to chew on it, climb it – but we will not let them. We get upset when their tails come dangerously close to the hanging ornaments. We tease them with wrapped boxes under this tree that contain yummy smelling treats with their name on them. But we get mad when they chew them, and we make them wait to open them.

Keep in mind that your dog will not only be tempted by the wrapped doggie treats, but other “people food” items that may be wrapped and placed under the tree in preparation of the holiday – chocolates, sausages, and cookies to name a few. Even though you can not see it, they certainly can smell it! Avoid a chocolate overdose by keeping those yummy packages out of their reach!

There are also many tempting smells coming from the kitchen and dinner table while you are entertaining for the holidays. Your pets will give you and your guests the “sad eyes”, but keep your food away from them, and educate your guests to do the same. Small changes in your pet’s diet can cause significant changes in the way they digest their food. Eating foods they are not used to can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly pancreatitis. And please – do not give your dogs the left-over bones! Many pets are rushed to the emergency clinic during the holiday season with bones stuck in their esophagus, stomach, or intestines. Even well cooked, baked, or stewed bones are hazardous.

If you think we are stressed, just think of this stress your pets must endure!

Of course our seasoned pets – the ones who have been with us for many years of holidays – know there are some advantages to the season. But for our young, unseasoned pets – or those that just do not adjust well to change – be sure to offer an extra pat on the head or an extra scratch behind the ear. Take a moment to relax with your pet – even for 10 minutes. Spending time with them has clinically shown to help lower your cortisol levels, and lower your blood pressure too!

Happy Holidays to you and your furry family!

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