Having friends and family around for the holidays is usually a given.  For pets, this means a lot of extra attention and a lot more hands for petting.  It’s an exciting time for everyone, and your furbaby is no exception.

We’ve noticed that there are quite a few resources for helping your guests cope with being around pets, but what about the other way around?  After all, your home is also your dog or cat’s home, and although these friendly intruders are always a welcome addition, your best friend also needs the chance to become acclimated to your guests.  So, without further ado, here are some helpful tips for giving your pets the happy and healthy holidays they deserve.

It’s all about the routine.

If your pet is used to a certain routine, try to stick to it as much as possible.  This is especially true for mealtime.  You can’t blame your pup for stealing that holiday ham if you forgot to feed him.

Wear them out.

A well-exercised dog or cat is a happy pet.  Daily walks and indoor playtime are an essential part of your best friend’s overall well-being.  With all of the excitement and commotion of the holidays, exercise can go a long way in the management of stress and anxiety (for both of you!).

Treat them to something nice.

If you are expecting visitors, consider leaving a treat jar outside of your front door with instructions for your guests, and ask them to present the treat to your dog or cat when they enter.  For your pet, this sends the very clear message that these intruders are friends.

Distraction is always an option.

If your pet has a playful nature, a new toy could be just enough to distract them while you entertain your company.  For dogs, there are plenty of puzzle-type games out there that will reward them with a treat.  Cats are especially delighted with any toy that offers light and sound… and you know they can’t resist a cardboard box.  Get creative, but remember to consider your pet’s safety when choosing any toy, no matter the season.  Avoid small parts or toys that can easily be destroyed (and eaten).  Where cats are concerned, anything with strings is a major no-no, as well.

The last thing anybody wants during the holidays is a conflict between pets and guests or a surprise trip to the veterinary (or human) emergency room.  Secluding pets should be a last resort, but if you feel that it is the safest option, then by all means, please do it.  As an alternative, consider reaching out to your veterinarian or pet-sitter for temporary supervision and entertainment for your cat or dog.

The holidays can be a scary and overwhelming time for pets, but they don’t have to be.

Featured Photo Credit: adrigu via Compfight cc