The holidays are times of both excitement and stress, of festivity and fatigue. If you own pets, you not only get to prepare lavish meals, shop for family and friends, decorate, and wrap gifts, but you also have to deal with keeping your furry kids out of trouble when guests are over or when there are dangerous edibles like chocolate laying around.
But don’t despair! Owning pets can enhance your holiday spirit, not hinder it. Just check out the following tips for surviving the holidays with pets at home:
Staying Out of Trouble
The biggest issue with pets is that they can’t seem to stay out of trouble, especially when there are human treats and toys and decorations all around them. It’s quite a departure from the living arrangements they’re accustomed to for the other eleven months of the year, so many pets are naturally intrigued by the sweet smells in the air and tinsel hanging from the walls (they’d probably love nothing more than to claw or chew it all up!).
For starters, the ASPCA offers a comprehensive list of foods that are hazardous for dogs as well as one for cats. Things like chocolate can really upset their stomachs (or worse, if eaten in large quantities), so be sure to secure garbage containers and leave no food out where your pet could snatch it. Even if you have a cat or a big dog that’s normally pretty obedient, don’t underestimate what they’d do to get at that chocolate cake or roasted chicken sitting on your counter.
Also be mindful of decorations that could potentially harm your pet, such as a tree (make sure it’s locked in place so it can’t fall over) or small decorations that they could chew up or swallow, causing intestinal issues that could lead to a pricy visit to the veterinarian.
Having guests over for holiday parties presents another problem for pet owners: what should you do with Fluffy and Fido? Some people won’t appreciate animals freely roaming around while they’re trying to eat, but locking up your pets for several hours isn’t a realistic or humane option either. Your options here include: leaving your pets in your bedroom and letting them out after your guests have finished their meal, hiring a pet sitter to take care of your pets while you’re busy playing host or hostess, ask your neighbor to look after your pets for the evening (only if they like animals, of course), or if you have children and your party is for the adults only, ask or pay your human kids to look after your furry, four-legged kids for the night.
Going Out of Town
If you go out of town for the holidays, the logistics of making sure your pets are taken care of become a bit more complicated. Some people don’t mind dropping their pets off at a boarding facility, but not only are these rather pricy during the holiday season, they could potentially lead to health problems if your pet catches an illness from someone else’s pet. Another option is to simply bring your pet along on your holiday travels, but for many, this isn’t possible due to limited space or pet restrictions at your destination.
There is also the option of hiring a pet sitter, but this could cost you in upwards of $20-50 per visit, depending on the time duration and services rendered (e.g., taking your dog on a walk or crushing pills for your cat). If you don’t have a doggie door or your cat doesn’t use an indoor litter box, you could end up having to pay for multiple visits to make sure your pets are going to the bathroom regularly. To save money, consider hiring a reliable teenager in your neighborhood who clearly loves animals and would love to make some cash over the holidays by looking after your pets.
Sure, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to managing your pets during the holidays, but it’s not all precautionary measures! When it comes time to unwrap presents, it’s always fun to give something to your pet to make sure they don’t feel left out. Whether it’s a simple bone or bag of cat treats or a luxurious new bed (you can always search around for coupons and coupon codes to minimize the costs of gifts for your pets), getting something for your pet is a nice way to share the holiday cheer with every member of your family.
What other tips and tricks do you have when it comes to pets around the holidays?