When your guests are practically overrunning your household and you have odd-smelling trees, presents that are not to be touched, and goodness knows what else – it can be quite confusing for your pets, no matter what species they belong to. Read up on how to make the holidays as uneventful as possible for Rover and Princess, and make your life – and theirs – a lot easier in the process!
First of all, consider your pet’s temperament. Some dogs, for example, simply love everyone they see. Some are afraid of strangers. Many dogs which are otherwise friendly can become concerned when there are large numbers of people about. Consider these factors carefully, and don’t put your dog in a position where he is consistently afraid. It may seem cruel, for example, to keep Fido locked in a bedroom… But it is far more cruel to place him in a situation where he is frightened, especially for extended periods of time. Most dog bites occur due to a fear response, meaning the dog is effectively so afraid that he can only think of biting to protect himself, but even if your dog would never bite anyone, making him participate in activities that will scare him or even ‘just’ make him uncomfortable can cause a lot of issues in the future as well as the present. Make him a little ‘nest’ in an out-of-the-way room with plenty of water and some food, his familiar bedding and/or crate and a jumper that smells like his favourite person. Check on him once an hour or so and see about freezing a treat-filled Kong to keep him busy and happy and ensure he is taken out frequently to help him stretch his legs and prevent accidents.
Giving your cat a safe place to retreat to is a good idea, too. A litter tray, food, water and a comfortable place to sleep will do. Again, you’re better off making your cat unhappy very briefly by locking her up in a room of her own than risking exposing her to situations where she is uncomfortable. If your cat is usually allowed outdoors, consider keeping her in for the night over New Year’s Eve as drunken people with fireworks can sometimes decide to do exceedingly cruel things to pet cats wandering about. Furthermore, fireworks can frighten a cat into running away from your neighbourhood and getting irrevocably lost, a situation any pet owner will be keen to avoid. If you are worried about your cat’s ability to cope with this, purchase some Feliway plug-ins and be sure your cat is exposed to them for at least 3 days before the party as these devices exude pheromones impressing on your cat the fact that everything is okay.
Small animals such as rodents or fish should, where possible, be placed in separate rooms, too. They can share a room with another pet provided that pet is certain to leave them alone, but should be away from the main hubbub. The concern here is that a guest who is too deeply in his or her cups will frighten them or try to take them out of their cage. As this is a poor idea in a crowded area to begin with, and an even worse one when the people in question are intoxicated, removing them from the area altogether is the best idea you could possibly choose to follow.
A last note: if you have a pet with a fear of strangers, it can be tempting to work on those issues while you have a house full of strangers at your disposal. Resist the temptation. If your guests are drunk they are prone to doing erratic things that may further upset your pet – even simply moving in an unusual, unpredictable way or smelling strongly of alcohol can further cement stranger anxiety in any pet. You can work on dealing with inebriated people, if you must, when your pet is bomb-proof with sober ones. For now, focus on getting your pet through the holiday season as best you can. And happy new year!