Everything you need to know about entertaining with pets

Planning your next big bash? For many people, the holiday season is filled with get-togethers, decorations, food and gifts.

They’re all good things, but they can lead to some confusion and anxiety for your pets. To get the most out of your next party, consider these handy tips:

Whether you’ve just moved into a new rental property, or simply want to take advantage of the good weather, it’s understandable that you might like to host family and friends in coming weeks. It’s also important, however, to remember that your pets may not share the same level of enthusiasm for a big party at home.

We’ve all heard the term ‘party animals,’ but actually, most dogs and cats don’t like loud gatherings with strangers around the house. Have you ever noticed your pets getting spooked and anxious when there’s unusual activity around the house? Even something simple like moving furniture around can upset them! It might not seem like a big deal to you, but from their standpoint, this activity can induce high levels of stress and anxiety.

Here are some tips to help you prepare you for your next shindig:

Look at your pet’s behaviour 

Have you noticed any signs of anxiety or aggression in your pet when it comes to large gatherings? If your guests are unknown to your pet, pets can feel uncomfortable and stressed. It’s a good idea to create a safe haven for them to retreat to if they start to feel overwhelmed. You could use your bathroom, laundry, or a bedroom – wherever they’ll feel secure and safe.

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What’s happening with the decorations?

We’ve all been here. Young (or curious pets) have a penchant for discovering what’s going on around them – so you may want to keep any decorations out of their reach. Think about hanging your best baubles only at the top of your Christmas tree, or not letting tinsel hang too low around the house. Once your pet is a little older and calmer these things won’t be as necessary, they tend to adapt better to their surrounds and won’t be so alert to change. Cats will love playing with dangling ornaments, can (and will) climb the tree if they spot something they like, and might bat baubles around the house. If you can’t help but keep your belongings accessible, remember to be patient if things go awry.

Did you shut the door? 

If you have guests around the house who aren’t familiar with your pet and its habits, beware of letting your pet in and out of the house. You might consider keeping them in a separate area of the house. That way, if your cat or dog gets spooked, they’re less likely to try to do a runner and possibly get lost. Keep an eye on doors being left open – pets can and will easily escape if given the opportunity!

Your pets need space and time

Pet lovers might be conned into thinking their pet wants to be the life of any party and join in on the festivities, but many pets would simply be happier and calmer if you sequester them into a designated room for the duration of the night. It’s a good idea to do this during set-up too! Give your pet their own area to make them self-sufficient and content with plenty of distraction toys and puzzles in that area. Don’t forget to add food and water, and a litter box for the kitty. Last, but not least, put a sign on the door to ensure your guests know not to disturb your furry friends.

Let’s get physical, physical

As it does for humans, good exercise does a lot for physical and mental health. Before you host a party, why not take your dog for a long walk. It’ll do wonders to calm him down when he’s feeling a little spent! If you have a cat, give them a little extra care with playtime and pats before the event.

You can’t feed Fido that!

Bot everyone knows your pet like you do. By the same token, not everyone is aware of what you can and cannot feed cats and dogs. That in mind, be aware of well-intending guests trying to offer food scraps to your pet. Many human foods (especially around the holiday period) can be toxic to pets. Chocolate and turkey are two big no-nos, as well as any cooked bones that could splinter easily. It’s okay to politely ask your friends not to feed your pets at the table or outside.

Post-party cleanup

So the guests have left and you’ve let your pets out. But now is not the time to let your guard down. Your pets might try to run into the kitchen when your back is turned and head straight for the leftovers, or raid the rubbish bin. Keep an eye out for boxes of chocolates left behind which can be toxic to pets.

Home is where you hang your hat

At the end of the day, your pet lives at your home, your guests don’t. Your guests should try to treat your furry friends with respect and understand that they may want a little attention on arrival. Taking proper precautions will go a long way towards happiness for you and your pets.