The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with friends and family and celebrate the year that’s passed. They’re a time for joy, a time for giving, and sadly, often a time for stress. As anyone who’s ever hosted a holiday party knows, sometimes the spirit of the season induces hassle instead of happiness.
All that anxiety isn’t just good for you or your family–it’s also bad for your pets. Fluffy and Fido can be just as influenced by stress as we are. And just like us, any change of routine (whether it’s a lot of people coming to visit or a schedule that’s suddenly different every day) can potentially hurt their health, if it causes them anxiety.
If you’re hosting a party this year, don’t fret. We’ve got some tips to make the festivities go off without a hitch, keeping you and Fido happy and stress-free.
Take time to organize. Make lists of what food you’ll make, what you need to buy, where everyone is going to sleep if they’re staying over, etc. Planning your schedule is a great way to stick to one, even if it’s slightly different than normal. Our pets are used to routine, so knowing how the days leading up to your party are going to play out is a great way to stick to the routine your pet knows. Organizing is also great because it allows you to know where to put your pet if he needs a break from guests (the spare bedroom?) and helps you foresee any problems and nip them in the bud (ham on the counter would be within reach of Fido, so put it on the table instead).
Cook ahead of time. This way, in the excitement of a party in full-swing, no food will drop on the floor and become a tasty treat for your pets. A few bits of ham or turkey falling wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but imagine if bits of cake frosting, dough, chocolate chips, or fried foods fell in the path of your pup. A little bit here and there can really add up! Cooking ahead of time will also mean less rushing, which can stress out you and your pets.
Keep your decorations simple (and away from pets). A few well-placed decorations can make a huge statement, and you will free up a lot of time you would have otherwise spent decorating. Avoid things that your pets can easily get into, such as fake snow or lights on the ground or loose decorations on tables and countertops. Be mindful of holiday plants like poinsettias or holly, which are dangerous to pets if ingested. Stopping problems before they happen is a great way of keeping stress at bay!
Make a “break room.” Having space away from the hustle and bustle can make a huge difference you your pet (and you!). If at any point during the party you feel that Fluffy is getting restless, or seems to be tiring of the attention she’s probably getting from the kids, let her have some downtime in another room that’s “off limits” to guests. Don’t think of this separation as punishment–on the contrary, your pet will most likely welcome the break! Be sure to provide some water, a place to rest, and a toy or two, and you’ll have created a little sanctuary for her. You might even find yourself sneaking away in the midst of things for a quick breather!
Exercise your pet before the guests arrive. Take Fido on a long walk or treat him to a long game of fetch. Have Fluffy chase felt mice or ribbons. Tiring your pet out is a good way of assuring that he’ll stay calm (or somewhat calm!) when guests show up. And we all know that exercise is a proven remedy for stress. After the party, if there’s time, you could consider playing with him again or letting him out to run in the yard. Bookending an exciting event like a holiday party with exercise is a great way to work off any stress that has built up– for both you and your pet!
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Holiday parties truly don’t have to be as stressful as they seem. With a little planning and effort, you can make sure that you host an event worth remembering and that everyone has a great time. Cheers to a stress-free holiday season!