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Casper Critters

Pets Can Also Stress During the Busy Holiday Season

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12/01/2011 - By Gayle M. Irwin

We are in the midst of the busiest time of the year, and as we frantically prepare for Christmas, be mindful that the furry friends which share our homes take on the stress that we often feel.

From frenzied to food, from guests to gift-giving, our pets take on the tension radiating from us—they, too, can experience anxiety which can lead to health problems (giving you something else to stress about!).

As you entertain with parties and dinners, keep in mind that your pets can become nervous with so many people and so much noise. We know why all these people are milling around our house, our pets do not. To help your pet deal with the extra people and commotion, set aside a special room far enough away from the noise so it can relax. But, don't desert him/her visit your pet in that quiet room so it doesn't stress from feeling abandoned!

If, however, your pet enjoys the attention given by your guests, let it hang out with you awhile. But, first make sure your guests know you have a pet in the home. (Some people are allergic to pet dander and others don't welcome pet hair on their clothing!) Make sure your pets and guests will mix well by first reminding people that there are pets in your home.

Once that formality is understood and accepted, don't let your guests feed table scraps to Fido or Fionna the feline. Human food can throw off your pet's nutritional balance and some foods, like chocolate, can be harmful to your pet's health. Setting down your pet's supper while you and your guests sit down to dinner helps to curb temptation to indulge your pets with table scraps.

Guests that are fearful of animals can also be a source of stress for you, your guest and your furry companions. Perhaps your guest is not actually fearful but unaccustomed to being around animals. Prepare your company ahead of time, telling them, for example, what type of dog you have and what its personality is like. If your dog has a loud bark, be sure to let your guests know to expect that when they knock on your door. If your cat likes to sit on people's laps, warn your guests ahead of time or confine Fionna to a room away from your dinner guests. But, as mentioned, don't forget her! Either yourself or your children should spend time with a pet that's kept away from everyone during a holiday party.

Another source of pet stress during the holidays is travel. Maybe you and your family are driving to Grandma's and planning to take Fido with you (Grandma has said it's okay to bring your furry friend). Some animals get car sick. Vets estimate 1 in 6 dogs experience motion sickness. Therefore, as a precaution, talk with your vet prior to traveling (especially a long distance) your vet can provide a relaxant medication to help pets travel with less stress and less sickness. Warning signs that your pet is experiencing motion sickness include increased drooling, excessive swallowing, and too much panting.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Although we do experience stress and anxiety during this time of year, our pets can experience those feelings as well. So, do your best to reduce both your stress level and that of your furry friend this holiday season. Rest, take some down time, and enjoy your loved ones and have your pets do the same!

Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. If you're looking for a great Christmas gift for your favorite child, educator or dog owner, consider her inspirational and engaging books. Within these stories are valuable life lessons. Her latest release, Cody's Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, captivates children about nature's wonders and also encourages them to get outdoors; the book includes a Nature Journal. Autographed copies available! Visit www.gaylemirwin.com to learn more or email Mrs. Irwin at wyoauthor@yahoo.com.

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