Holiday Stress — Cats and dogs
What should you do with your cat or dog during Holiday parties? Dr. Isabelle Demontigny-Bédard tells all.
The Holiday scan be stressful.
Entertaining during the Holidays can be stressful for us all, including our four-legged friends. After all, there will be more and newer people coming and going, with different voices chattering. What’s more, the inside of the house is different, with Holiday decorations and lights all around. According to Dr. Isabelle Demontigny-Bédard, animal behaviour specialist at the DMV veterinary centre and for Passionimo, the question then becomes whether your dog or cat should interact with your guests.
First of all, how well do you know your pet? Do they behave differently when guests are around? Are they afraid or sociable? Gentle or aggressive? “If your dog or cat responds to guests naturally, but their behaviour makes your guests uncomfortable, it might be better to have your pet in a closed room elsewhere in the house during the party,” says Dr. Demontigny-Bédard. But Dr. Demontigny-Bédard stresses that it’s important your pet not feel that this is a punishment. “Make sure to have water, food and toys that will keep your pet occupied and happy. Food puzzles are a good idea. Also, provide a comfortable place for them to lie down… as well as another to climb on if your pet is a cat. In other words, it should be a small room that your pet feels good in.”
Another question you should ask yourself: how well do you know your guests? Are they friends who frequently come over? Will there be children? Seniors? All at once? Are any of them allergic to cats or dogs? Will they understand your pet’s “language”? If you give your guests a few instructions, will they follow them? Don’t forget, the festive Holiday atmosphere sometimes makes people behave in an exaggerated way.
Finally, you’ll need to think about the phenomenal amount of food and unusual items that will abound, such as gifts and gift wrap, that will be within your pet’s reach.
Having your dog or cat around may create an additional complication when entertaining. Thinking preventively, Dr. Demontigny-Bédard advises that during the party and in order to avoid trouble, maybe you should have your pet stay at a kennel (in case keeping them in a closed room is not an option). Also: think about it and act in advance, because many people reserve their spot for the Holidays weeks in advance.
Trial run before the Holidays
Observe your pet when you have guests over. This will give you an idea of the type of behaviour you can expect during a party. Another test: keep your pet in a room for a few hours (always the same one) that you have set up for them, even while you are still in the house. Do they keep barking? According to Dr. Demontigny-Bédard, different products, some natural, could help your dog or cat have a more enjoyable time during the Holidays. Ask your vet about them.
One thing’s for sure: on “D-Day”, your pet won’t understand the reason for all this upheaval. From their point of view, the house simply hasn’t been the same for some time, and today, all kinds of strangers have shown up. They all talk at the same time, make noise and eat and have food everywhere. It’s a bit stressful to be sure!