‘Tis the season for parties, dinners, gift exchanges and get-togethers. The holidays mean extra fun, but they can also mean extra stress – not only for you, but for your pet as well. Here are our top tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy this holiday season, so that everyone has a good time.
1. Prep Your Pup Before the Party
Unless you’re a dedicated social butterfly, most pets are not used to having more than a few people around. So when a slew of visitors arrives, you may find your pup acting abnormally. If you’ve taken our Dog Dosha Quiz, you know that animals with different mind/body types, or Doshas, react differently to the same situation. When guests arrive, Vata animals may become anxious, Pitta animals can get overexcited and Kapha animals tend to want nothing more than to disappear.
Consider how your dog will react, and ask yourself if it’s best to include them in the festivities or not. In either situation, set aside a safe room where they can go on their own if they need a retreat or stay confined in for the duration of the event. Make this a calm, comfortable space with a bed or blanket, water, a favorite toy and maybe some treats. You can even take your pet’s Dosha into account when creating their safe room: Melodic music and warm cozy blankets may help calm Vata dogs, lavender essential oil misted over bedding or diffused in the room can soothe Pitta pups and Kapha dogs may appreciate a favorite bone that they can methodically chew on.
If you do choose to include your animal as part of the party, keep in mind that when our furry friends get overly distracted or overstimulated, everything they’ve learned as far as obedience can go out the window (think jumping, barking, snatching food from hands or tables…) In the weeks before the holidays, dedicate some time to work on your pet’s manners and reinforce obedience training.
2. Stick to a Routine
One of the best things you can for your dog amidst the holiday chaos is to keep to a familiar schedule as much as possible. Just like people, animals find a sense of comfort in a familiar, reliable routine. In addition, the extra stimulation from all the festivities can cause an increase of Vata Dosha in your pup, which can lead to worry, anxiety, restlessness or irregular digestion. Luckily, maintaining routine and regularity is one of the most effective and simplest things you can do to balance Vata. Make an effort to feed your dog at the same time every day, walk them on a predictable schedule and set aside time each day for sufficient rest, exercise and play.
3. Stay Safe
An unexpected trip to the vet (not to mention paying the vet bill) is the last thing you need to add to your to-do list during the hectic holiday season. Plus, we all know firsthand just how stressed a trip to the vet can make our furry friends. Here are some quick tips to keep your pet safe throughout the festivities:
Food – Indulging in tasty treats is one of the perks of the holidays for us humans, but many of these goodies can be harmful for dogs to ingest. Avoid feeding your dog chocolate, other sweets (Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs), dark meat turkey and turkey skin (which can cause pancreatitis), yeast dough (which can lead to dangerous bloating), as well as these foods which are toxic for pups: onions, large amounts of garlic, raisins, grapes, sage, nutmeg, macadamia nuts and alcohol.
Decorations – Bright lights, Christmas trees and sparkly decorations make the holidays festive, but they can also be hazardous risks for curious pets. Consider tying your tree with fishing line to the ceiling or a door frame to avoid rambunctious animals knocking it over onto themselves, and avoid putting any additives into your tree water that your dog could potentially ingest. Keep any ornaments and electric lights out of reach of pups who like to chew. Additionally, certain festive plants can be harmful for your dog if ingested, including amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar and holly.
4. Spend Some Quality Time
While there’s no denying the certain delight that comes from finally receiving that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing all year, we all know the truest and best joy of the season is to spend time with those we love – and our pets feel the same way. As much as your pup may love a new squeaky toy or a tasty bag of treats, man’s best friend truly wants nothing more than to spend quality time with their favorite humans.
Give your dog the gift of an extra-long walk, meditate with them or spend some time enjoying nature together – anything you can do to play and show your affection. You can even pamper your pup with a canine massage. Try using long, soothing strokes, as well as kneading or rolling motions. The main thing is to be gentle. While some humans may enjoy deep tissue massage, with dogs it’s best to use light pressure and avoid anything fast, hard or abrupt to prevent any adverse effects. (Hint: spend some extra time massaging their shoulders. Since your pup can’t reach this area of their body, they should especially enjoy this!)
As always, it all comes down to balance. With these tips it’s possible to have fun, indulge and be merry while still ensuring you and your pet stay safe, happy and healthy.
:: Sama Dog
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or behavioral advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified animal health care provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet's medical or behavioral condition/s.