Dear Animal Friends,
It’s that time of year when invaders start showing up at the house. It starts on the last day of October when little humans come to the door seeking treats and waging war! Next, all sizes of humans get together inside the home with a big feast in November. It’s during these times that so many of them intimidate us with what they call “cuddling” but it’s more like squeezing and tail pulling. It doesn’t end there though! After the big feast, the living room becomes an obstacle course of unfamiliar items. They have little melting sticks of fire strategically placed throughout the house. The smells can be very overwhelming. Sometimes, there is even a tree from outside placed within our den! It’s usually covered in shiny objects and flashing lights, a warning indeed! Then, after one frightening and chaotic morning of paper ripping, shouting, and laughing, just when you think things might calm down there is one more battle. The humans wait until the middle of the night and then they shout and cheer as explosions erupt all over the land! It’s a confusing and scary time. Find a bed to hide under and hopefully your personal human will help protect you!
Yours truly, Animal Informant
The holidays are right around the corner bringing the excitement of social gatherings, decorations, and of course delicious food. Unfortunately, our beloved animals don’t always interpret this season the way we do. From Halloween to New Year, our animal companions can find themselves in many scary situations. Common holiday hazards include unsafe decorations, poisonous foods, and behavioral issues. As their guardians, it is our responsibility to be as proactive as we can while celebrating with both humans and animals.
As we begin to decorate the house and get into the holiday spirit there are a few things to keep in mind. Many seasonal plants such as lilies, poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and amaryllis, are toxic to household pets. Before introducing a new plant in the home, research it to find out if there are potential toxic dangers to any animal residents. Also, be aware of the set up for any lighting. In addition to being a general fire hazard, the electrical cords can be enticing to play with and chew on, which can lead to electrocution. Place candles in safe areas and refrain from creating heavy scents. The smell can be overwhelming to an animal’s highly sensitive olfactory senses. In addition, some candles are toxic to certain animals, especially birds. Similarly, scented oils, which are increasingly popular these days, should be placed out of the reach of animals. Felines are known to be inquisitive, so they must be protected from ingesting oil or getting burned from it. If your holiday festivities include a Christmas tree, be sure to secure the tree and prevent any animals from drinking out of the water base. It is best to refrain from using tinsel and glass ornaments. If you do, strategically place them amongst the branches. Cats love to play with ornaments and a happy dog’s wagging tail might send your favorite ornament crashing to the floor.
Aside from festive decor, food is a main component and attraction at holiday gatherings. When cooking food, restrict animals from entering the kitchen for their safety and yours. Cooking with non- stick pans can leach chemicals into the air, which are toxic to birds. Place parrots and other birds in well ventilated areas as far away from the kitchen as possible. When it comes to dinner time, it is best to redirect animals away from the humans’ meal by giving them their own appropriate savory dish in another area. If you do not wish to remove your pet, request that all guests refrain from feeding them any scraps or treats. If you choose to share parts of your holiday meal with your pet, check the ingredients with a list of foods that might be toxic to the animal.
The holidays present a wonderful opportunity to shower your pets with love and attention. The goal is to keep the interactions positive and behavioral expectations consistent. Show guests how to properly interact with animal residents. Discourage the reinforcement of poor behavior such as barking or jumping up. Provide toys and other tools for redirecting the energy of excitement, such as a ball for fetch or a puzzle for treats. Young adults and children can be encouraged to act as a protector or trainer for your pet. Such a role will encourage them to refrain from negative interactions and help foster positive ones. Young adults and small children should always be supervised when an animal is present, especially if they are not well acquainted.
Another common scenario that should always be supervised is the presence of alcohol or smoke. An animal ingesting alcohol isn’t the only danger that the alcohol presents. If a guest becomes very intoxicated, remove all animals from the atmosphere. Impaired judgement presents many dangers, as well as the possibility of accidental physical harm to the intoxicated person and/or the animal due to stumbling or mishandling. Second hand smoke is very harmful to animals. Relocate all animals to a smoke free environment or request that guests smoke in a designated area away from pets.
To finish off the holiday season, most animals will experience the sound of fireworks during New Year’s celebrations. Most importantly, keep secure identification on the animal at all times. Too many loved pets go missing or get injured without resolution due to lack of identification. Keep animals in secure areas, preferably without direct access to glass windows. Turn some music or the television on to fade out the sudden noise of exploding firecrackers. Do not console or coddle pets while in a scared state. Such conditioning positively reinforces the panicked state. Instead, ignore insecure behavior and model a calm and confident demeanor. For severe anxiety, there are products such as ThunderShirts or veterinarian prescribed medications to ease the situation.
A happy and safe holiday is what everyone wants! Once the house has been responsibly decorated try to stick to a normal routine. Take the dog for a walk before people arrive for the gathering. Remember to use verbal praise or treats to positively reinforce obedient behavior. Provide a safe place for animals to retreat to if they do not want to be social. Festive pet attire can be adorable as long as the pet is not restricted. When in doubt, take a quick photo and let your pet be comfortable without the festive accessory. Lastly, keep identification tags securely on any pet that could possibly escape. Now, you and your pet are prepared for the holidays! Enjoy and don’t forget to take a moment to see things through your beloved pet’s eyes this season!
Tail wagging regards,