As we enter the holiday season, please consider the following pet care tips:
1. Pets get stressed out too. Strange people, strange stuff, strange routines. Be your pet's advocate. Make sure they have a safe place to hang out. Make time for them during your busy holiday schedule. A 10-minute walk will help you both to de-frazzle.
2. Stressed out pets will try to leave OR make someone else leave.
Be vigilant about open doors and window. If Fido is scared of Aunt Sally, he may bolt. Use extra baby gates to create a pet "airlock" around entry points — particularly when visiting family are unaccustomed to living with pets or have mobility concerns.
Be careful that Kitty doesn't get locked in a back bedroom, closet, garage, etc. for days and days with no water or food.
If a stressed-out pet is cornered and cannot leave, they will try to make Aunt Sally leave.
Hissing, swatting, growling, lip twitches, and teeth baring are clear signals that your pet is afraid. Strangers are scary and scared pets bite. Prevent friends or family from pushing your pet beyond Fluffy's comfort zone. Do not leave unsupervised children with pets who are not used to kids. Do not let your child take chew bones or toys away from anyone's dog. And let's all respect Fido's space when eating. You don't like it when the dog pesters you during dinner. Well, frankly, he doesn't either.
3. Keep your pets safe from toxins. When Aunt Sally leaves the triple chocolate cake or worse — her prescription medications — where Fido can eat them… Call here:
Yes, you have to pay for their services. It's worth it. And don't get snarky about your hold time. 39 other dogs are in trouble too.
4. If you are traveling. Leave detailed instructions on food, walks, and care with any pet sitter or caregiver. These should include:
Names and contact information for
your family veterinarian
the closest emergency veterinarian or 24-hr emergency clinic
contact information for Animal Poison Control (see above) and
HOW TO REACH YOU IN AN EMERGENCY
The names of any ongoing medical problems your pet has.
The names and doses of any medications your pet is taking.
Let's review what "How to Reach You in an Emergency" really means. It means at least two phone numbers AND the location where you will be staying.
If you will be overseas, or somehow completely unreachable, you need to tell the sitter when, for how long, etc. And, you need to have a conversation about what to do if there is an emergency. Will you pay them back if they need to pay emergency fees for your pet?? How much are you willing to spend?? What types of conditions are you willing to treat or not treat?? What should they do if faced with life-and-death decisions.
5. Should your pet require emergency care during the holidays, be nice. We understand your holiday plans are completely a mess because Aunt Sally screwed up. But guess what, we get to work the holiday, so leave your jackass in the barn and act with grace and compassion. (This goes for all interactions with doctors, nurses, cops, and firemen too.) Plus, I can guarantee you that vet clinic has a tally sheet on the wall for every dog that eats a pop-up turkey-thermometer doodad. There’s also a betting pool on how many chocolate ingestions they're going to see. This is not our first rodeo.
6. “People food” does not equal “pet food.” Fatty foods, sudden changes in diet, and overindulgences can all cause gastrointestinal upset. Leave Fido's food alone. He can celebrate with a little lean turkey and a small portion of canned pumpkin (pre-pie with no spices please.) Let's not encourage an increase in #5 above.