9 Ways to Have a Stress-Free Holiday with your Pet

The holidays are a time to share with those that you’re most thankful for, and this includes your dog. Unfortunately, this time of the year can be stressful for both humans and our pets. Don’t worry! There are steps you can take to make your holiday plans as stress-free for both of you as possible.

Here are Spotwalk’s 9 tips for having a stress-free holiday with your pet.

Travel

The holidays are the busiest travel season. It is important to be prepared for whatever the road may bring you. Here are our tips to make for a smooth ride.

1. Secure your pets correctly in the car

A dog or cat should never ride in the front seat or on a lap. This can be dangerous for them in case of an accident, or even cause an accident. Pets should either be harnessed into a back seat or be held in a crate. Being on the road can be incredibly stressful for your furry companion, but giving them the proper space can help ease their nerves and keeps you safe on the road.

2. Travel with treats and Bonine

As with most aspects of pet ownership, you should always be prepared. This means bringing the obvious, like a leash, poop bags, water, and food. You may also want to consider bringing treats and other comforts like toys to make your pet’s trip comfortable. Much like humans, dogs can also experience motion sickness, so it is not advised to feed your dog while driving. You may feed your dog some ginger or OTC motion sickness medicine like Bonine, but consult your veterinary professional before doing so.

3. Make it comfortable

Traveling to new places and being confined to a small space for an extended period of time can be very stressful and confusing to your pet. Making them comfortable can make your life thousand times easier. Finding cues from what your pet does at home for comfort is key. This may mean bringing a favorite blanket or toy. Chewing treats are also helpful to manage stress. Having a calm dog will make for a safer and more manageable ride for you to get to where you want to be.

Eating

Our gatherings are usually highlighted by delicious feasts and your dog is likely to be salivating over your holiday turkey just as much as you are. Unfortunately, a pet’s diet is delicate and the holidays are a tricky time for maintaining it.

4. Don’t cave to begging

Poor behavior can be a big issue at holiday events and we dive a bit more into that later in the article. A big thing to watch for is begging. This may be a good time to separate your pet from the group to avoid the temptation of begging especially for food-motivated animals. Begging is not only annoying but could lead to your pet being fed something toxic for them by accident.

5. Know what kinds of human food are ok for your dog’s health

It’s very hard to resist those puppy dog eyes staring at you as you dig into your meal. With an abundance of food, it might seem mean not to offer any to your four-legged friend. Luckily there are lots of food your dog can eat, but there are some to avoid. Below is an abbreviated list of what can and cannot be fed to your pets.

CAN EAT

Turkey (white meat only, no skin), Corn (no cobb), Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin (avoid sugar), Raw Cranberries, Brussel Sprouts, Homemade Rolls (with no butter).

CAN'T EAT

Nuts, Pie, Sugary Foods, Grapes/Raisins, Gravy, Buttery Foods, Garlic/Chives/Onions/Scallions, Chocolate, Cooked Bones.

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6. Keep your trash and food out of reach

To avoid dealing with an upset stomach or a visit to the vet there are a few actions you do. You should avoid leaving your pet around food alone. The temptation to serve themselves may be too big of temptation and they may get into something they shouldn’t. You should also make sure trash is properly disposed of so your pet does not get into it.

Party Etiquette

A party is a good time for all and dogs can be a great addition, however, it is important to know that this is sensory overload for your pet and there are some precautions you can take that can make it the best time possible.

7. Give your pet a safe space

Entering a new space or having a group at your home can be confusing to your dog or cat. It is important that you give them a space to feel comfortable and avoid any acting out. This might be a spare bedroom, a crate or any area away from the commotion. Much like creating a space in the car, it is important that you bring something familiar for this space like a favorite toy, their blanket or chew treats.

8. Keep an eye on your pet

It is easy to get wrapped up in all the holiday happenings, but it is important to keep an eye on your pet. Your dog will likely socialize and often will be the life of the party. This is good, but keep an eye out for possibly troubling scenarios. This may include a rambunctious unsupervised child, an open door or an overly friendly aunt feeding your pet table scraps. Also, keep an eye out for your pet’s interactions with decorations. Some decorations seem like fun playthings, but decorations like tinsel can be dangerous to your dog’s health. The last thing you would want during a holiday get together is for a pet emergency.

9. Understand your pet’s behavior

You know your pet better than anybody and that’s important in gatherings. Dogs and cats’ natural instinct or behavioral tendencies do not take exception for a party. Try to avoid situations before they arise. For instance, if your pup is a jumper, be sure to stay close when they are interacting with the elderly. Your bond with your pet can often be your best defense in avoiding any holiday headaches before they happen.

The holidays are a time of a celebration and of course, you want to celebrate with your furry companion. We hope these tips help make for a very merry and smooth holiday season for both you and your pet.

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3 Comments

  1. David L Kom says:

    Good read Matt, thank you 🙂

  2. DIANE NICKERSON says:

    Great article and very cool pics!
    What about Cats? I was thinking of taking my kitty with me.

    • Matt Hock says:

      Hey Diane- A lot of these tips go for cats too!
      – Giving your cats space is important, they don’t ever want to feel threatened or overwhelmed.
      – You should secure your cat in a pet carrier while driving.
      – Cats will sometimes mark territory, can be mischevious and are experts at hide-n-seek so keeping an eye on them in a new area is a good idea.
      – Cats also have a lot of the same dietary restrictions as dogs.

      Have a happy holidays! Cheers 🙂

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