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Are You Prepared This Holiday Season For Receiving Your Four Legged Friends?
Many of us will be traveling over these Holidays to see family and friends, that may include our four legged family. Here are some tips to keeping it a positive, stress-free, and a slightly less like a “Griswald” holiday.

What are some tips and advice for preparing your house so that your guests and their pets are comfortable?

  1. Prepare a pet-friendly gift basket. Prior to the visit, ask your guests what some of their pet’s favorite treats or toys are and prepare a gift basket.

  1. For doggy guests, remember to avoid rawhides, bones or even greenies, especially if not supervised since these may present a choking hazard. Fill the basket with some favorite dog biscuits or indestructible toys, as well as information about local dog-friendly restaurants, parks, and hiking trails. Don’t forget eco-friendly poop bags and an extra dog bed.
  1. If a guest is bringing a cat to your home, you may want to include cat nip or even a pheromone diffuser. Traveling is often more stressful for cats. Pheromone therapy with products can help relax cats and make the transition of the holidays less stressful.
  1. For all pets, your guest will appreciate you including the number to a local veterinarian and the emergency hospital, just in case.

What types of planning and preparations do you need to make?

  1. Confirm with your guests that vaccination and deworming records are current. All pets should be on a flea preventative before entering your household to avoid any unwanted guests that tagged along with the dog or cat house guest. If you live in an area with mosquitoes, your guest may want to discuss with their vet if a heart preventative should be started prior to arriving in your area. High risk areas for heart worm include Florida, Southeast and areas where there is stagnant water and mosquitoes.
  1. You may want to puppy proof your house by removing or hiding all wires that may be chewed. This is especially true around Christmas time when puppies and kittens may be tempted to chew at Christmas lights and risk electrocution.
  1. It is also important to know what holiday treats or ingredients may be toxic to a pets, including chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes/raisins, onions, garlic, raw bread dough, and candy with the artificial sweetener, xylitol. Foods with these ingredients should be kept off tables and countertops to avoid the reach of a curious nose of a four legged house guest. It is also important to instruct a house guest to keep all medications out of reach or carefully zipped up in a suitcase.

What about considerations for your children and your own pets?

  1. You may want to invest in baby gates prior to your house guest arriving. These may be used to keep pets from unwanted areas, such as the dining room with that expensive Oriental rug or keep your pet and house guest’s pets separated during feedings to avoid possible food aggression. The baby gates may also be used to keep pets separated with gradual introduction to one another. A gradual introduction helps reduce anxiety and aggression between the pets.
  1. Children should also be instructed to warm up to the pet slowly. Signs of fear or aggression such as the tail between the legs, ears pinned backwards or failure to make eye contact should be taken seriously. If these signs are noted or there is history of aggression, children should be instructed to avoid interaction with a pet. A child should only approach a dog or cat with permission and supervision from the owner. Face-to-face contact should always be avoided.

Should you do a meet and greet beforehand?

  1. It is important to gradually introduce pets. A neutral territory such as a park is good to get pets used to each other outside the home. You may want to keep pets separated from one another completely if one of the pets has had any episodes of aggression with other dogs or cats in the past.

What household items that can come in handy during this time?

  1. Household items to have on hand when hosting guests and their pets include pet stain remover, Benadryl, Pepcid A/C, Tupperware containers, and a roller brush to remove unwanted pet hair. It is important to consult a veterinarian when using Benedryl or Pepcid A/C, but both can be obtained over the counter to treat mild allergic reactions or a mild upset stomach, respectively. Tupperware containers help keep tasty food away from the amazing sense of smell that pets have.
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