In the chaos of the holiday season, it can be all too easy to ignore the impact of the tumult on Fido or Socks (or Xerxes, or Mr. Buttons, or whoever else shares your home). Human holidays are a joyous time to visit with family, travel, and host visitors. But dogs and cats can wind up finding the holidays particularly stressful. Here are a few tips to help your furry friends avoid stress during the holiday season.
Taking Your Canine or Feline Family Along
The first big choice is whether to bring your pets along or leave them at home. While the decision depends a lot on your particular pets, there are a few general trends. Cats tend to handle solitude pretty well if you can manage that and get a sitter in to check on them daily or, if you can afford it, stay over.
Dogs present a tougher choice. While they tend to want to stick to a routine, they're liable to get lonely. On top of that, leaving the dog behind can be expensive. Overnight sitters will run anywhere from $50 to $100 a day. Even if you don't hire someone for overnight, dogs need to be walked several times a day and fed and played with whereas cats can generally get by on one visit per day.
If you decide to take your pet on a trip with you, it should have ID tags, and you should carry copies of documents showing that the animal is up-to-date on vaccinations. If your pet is microchipped (which is a good idea if you are traveling with it) the microchip should have your contact information embedded.
Make sure your pet is in good health if you are taking it with you. If your pet is elderly or ill or dislikes travel, it will do better staying at home with a friend or family member or at a boarding facility (ask your vet for a recommendation). It may be difficult to leave an animal in a boarding home but it may also be what's best for the pet. They will not be happy or even safe on a long trip if they don’t like traveling, even if they like you.
If you are going to another country, plan way ahead-the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests that you begin doing the paperwork six months beforehand. You will need a certificate of veterinary inspection from a federally accredited veterinarian and may need an endorsement on that certificate from the USDA.
If you are driving, a cat or a small dog should be in a comfortable carrier in the back seat. Don’t travel with your dog hanging out the window or in the back of your pickup truck. Take familiar bedding and toys. For larger dogs, a sling that fits over the headrests on the front seat can keep your dog in the back, so it doesn't start exploring the armrests while you're driving. You can also get a harness for a dog and hook it to the seat belt, which many animal-care sites recommend. Whatever you do, don't let dogs sit right by the driver’s feet.
Whatever method of travel you are planning, check with the service (that is, the bus, plane, or train company) way ahead of the date of travel. The AVMA has tips here for traveling with a pet by plane, car, train, bus, or even boat! Also make sure that any hotel you are staying at on the way is pet friendly, and research a good veterinarian near where you are going to be staying, just in case.
If You're Leaving Your Dog or Cat at Home: Hire a Sitter
If you're leaving your pet with a sitter, there are a few questions to consider: Does your pet have any specific medical or dietary needs? Would you rather have a friend or family member watching over things, or a professional sitter? And, of course, how much are you willing to pay?
When it comes to friends or family versus professionals, there are advantages to each. With a friend, you might not feel comfortable asking for what you'd really like in terms of care, but likely have someone you already trust and who is familiar with your pet and can stay overnight. With a pro, the relationship is on a professional basis, so if something does go wrong you don't have to worry about compromising a friendship, and the pros are experienced in what to do in emergencies.
When you hire a sitter, consider asking for references and interviewing the person who will be doing the pet-sitting, preferably at your home with the animal there to see how well they get along. Discuss cost, and look carefully through the paperwork they provide, which should include a contract of responsibilities and state what the coverage and their policy is for various eventualities. Discuss what you want them to do, and what toys or activities your animal likes and needs.
On the travel day, check that you have your sitter’s contact information and leave a written-out copy of instructions at home as well as providing the information digitally. The sitter should have the information for where and with whom you are staying, the time and date of your travel, and your vet’s contact information, the local emergency animal clinic, and, if you are in an apartment, the super’s contact information too. Also leave copies of your pet’s vaccinations and any recent medical work or necessary strictures such as whether the animal has any allergies. A pet carrier should be out where the sitter can see it and grab it quickly.© Carmen Moreno Photography - Getty Images Christmas cat hunting
If You're Staying Home
If you aren’t traveling but will just be super-busy for a few days, consider hiring a dog or cat sitter to come in and take your friend for a run or play and hang out with your cat, or recruit a friend to do the same. Another option is to take your dog to a play-time center or dog park.
If you are a technologically-oriented person you may like to install a home-security system for keeping an eye on your pet. Peace of mind is worth a lot. These home security cameras can give you a modicum of that elusive peace when you are on the road.
Keeping to a regular schedule is important to your pet-going on walks at the normal time, getting up and going to sleep as usual, eating as usual. So keep the routine going as much as possible. If you can’t spend a lot of time with your pets for a day or two, be aware and keep an eye out for signs of stress, such as the animal following you about more closely or being short-tempered. If that happens, try playing with them more, give them some exercise and extra attention and love.
Keeping Your Dog Warm in Cold Weather
Despite having fur all over, dogs and cats do get cold. The AVMA says, “No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.” Dogs can get hypothermia or frostbite. Even dogs bred for cold climates should not be left outdoors. Elderly or ill animals are extra susceptible to cold and need cozy bedding in a warm spot in the house, free of drafts and away from doors and foot traffic. Watch out for space heaters, if you use them, as they are not only a fire hazard, but also serve as a burn risk for your pet. If your dog is outside, make sure it has a collar ID and if possible a microchip. Snow and ice make it hard for a dog to pick up your scent if it gets separated from you on a walk. And just as you shouldn’t ever leave an animal in a hot car in the summer, neither should you leave one in a cold car in the winter.© Goxy89 - Getty Images Playing with the snow
If your dog starts shivering or whining out on a walk, get them home and warmed up right away. If it continues to behave like it is cold or is low-energy call your vet immediately-the dog could have hypothermia. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s feet after walks; in towns and cities and on rural roads chemical agents like deicers can get into its paws and poison your dog when it licks its fur.
General Tips for Holidays with Dogs and Cats
Guests: Let your guests know that you have pets! If someone has an allergy, talk to them ahead of the visit to ameliorate any difficulties.
Having a lot of visitors around stresses a pet, even if the animal knows them all. If the company gets to be too much, put the animal in a warm, quiet room with water, litter (for cats), and a favorite toy and blanket; or leave your cat or dog out with the company but be sure it has several of its safe hideaways or familiar beds around. And keep a close eye on all the doors. An upset or stressed animal will head out a door lickety-split, so if you are worried about this put it in a closed-off room, and don’t let the kids go in there.
An overexcited child is not a good mix with an overexcited dog or a worried cat. Keep rambunctious kids away from the pets (or vice versa). Kids like to know what animals are, and how they behave, so it’s an opportunity to involve them in some animal husbandry, so long as no one involved gets overwhelmed.
Food: Don’t feed your dog scraps from the holiday table. Chocolate and even turkey are harmful. Bones from a carcass can choke animals. It’s also just bad practice, and your pet will begin to expect food from your table at every meal. Put the trash out where the dog (or cat) cannot get at it.
Plants and Decorations: Beware when bringing festive plants into the home, many of these are poisonous to animals. Keep the plants high up out of a dog’s reach, and if you have cats it’s better to either not get poisonous plants at all or keep them out on a porch where the cat does not go. Be wary of putting aspirin or other life-extending chemicals into your Christmas tree's water; it is poisonous to dogs and cats should they decide to go there for a drink.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a searchable page for plants poisonous to dogs and cats and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a 24-hour emergency phone number: 888-426-4435. Keep this information and a list nearby, or keep the number for your veterinarian and a local emergency animal clinic in your phone or pocket book.
Decorations: When you put up decorations and open up all the presents, throw away paper and ribbons and don’t leave small parts of toys lying around. Dogs will eat crazy things with no regard for whether it will make them ill, and they can choke on materials or get items lodged in their digestive system. Glass ornaments break easily and the shards will injure your pets if they walk through them or scarf them up. Don’t let animals chew on electrical cords. Never, ever leave burning candles unattended.
This news has been published by title Traveling With Pets: How To Make Sure Spot Has The Best Trip Possible
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