During the holidays we often invite guests into our homes for parties and dinners. This can have a big impact on your pets. There are a lot of things to consider when mixing your pets with new people.
Don’t let your guests feed your pet human food. Human food can make pets sick because it is toxic to them or too rich or foreign for their digestive systems. The last thing you want is for your pet to get sick during your holiday dinner or party. If your guests want to give your pet a treat or if your pet is really persistent, put out a dish of treats that are safe for your pet to eat. Make sure the dish is out of your pet’s reach! You may want to ask your guests to limit themselves to offering one or two treats, so that your pet doesn’t get overfed or sick from too many treats.
Provide a safe haven for your pet to retreat to if your guests or party becomes overwhelming. This space should ideally be far away from the activity and noise. Provide the necessities for your pet, such as food, water, a comfortable place to lay, a litter box, and a favorite toy or two to make them feel comfortable. If your pet feels overwhelmed or frightened she can choose to retreat to this area and then decide whether rejoin the group.
Find out if any of your guests are afraid of cats or dogs (or any other pets you may have!) Try to remember that your confidence in your pet’s sweet nature and kindness will not reassure a fearful friend or family member. Fears are very individual and complex – in both humans and pets. Don’t become offended if a guest isn’t interested in interacting with your pet, or vice versa.
Pay attention to your pet’s emotional needs also. If you have a fearful pet, or a pet who becomes anxious around new people or large groups, consider what is best for your furry friend. It may be best to keep your pet exclusively in their safe haven area, checking on them periodically.
I hope you all have successful holiday parties with your family, friends, and pets! Please comment if you have other suggestions!
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!