Your Pet and the Holidays: A Survival Guide

December 23, 2013
Catharine Grace and Karma
Catharine Grace and Karma

By Catharine Grace, and Karma

Our pets can feel our nervousness, anticipation and excitement about the holidays. Here’s a guide to help you and your pets survive the season.


To our pets, holiday decorations look like an enormous all you can eat buffet made just for them.

Festive decorations are so shiny with crystals and beads hanging off of them; our pets just would love to take one little nibble, and before they know it, our four-legged friends have the whole decoration in their stomach. Our canine companions just can’t stop themselves when their curiosity factor is off the charts.

Both dogs and cats love to dive in head first into bags and boxes full of ribbon, wrappings and glitter which are all harmful to their digestive systems. They usually do this of course, when we’re not at home and we often have to find out evidence of this act the hard way.

It’s helpful if dog owners can keep the decorations above a dog’s eye level. Place large boxes (without ribbons) that reach above the bottom of the tree. You can also use pineapple spray on ornaments. It’s available at most pet shops and dogs aren’t fond of the scent, so it should help in keeping them away.

Please make sure you have plenty of chew toys for your dogs during the holidays. I think the holidays are an OK time for pets to indulge in a couple of exciting and special treats. After all, people do the same thing, within moderation of course!


Another thing to keep in mind: the doorbell!

Karma has a love and hate relationship with the doorbell. She gets very loud and a little excited. Then some days she could care less, but that’s usually not the case. Practice greeting people with your dog. Many of us have relatives with children and sometimes other dogs who will stop by to visit.

Go over behavior at the door with your dogs, and let them know what you expect from them. They will learn this with training, and by watching your own behavior at the door. As long as you remain calm, they’ll do the same. Give positive reinforcement and remember it’s ok if mistakes happen.

When company is visiting, make sure you have fun activities your dog and cats can do. If they seem to be getting into mischief, have a toy ready for them to play with to help redirect their behavior. If all the excitement seems to be too much for your animal companions, block off a section so they can feel more in control of their own environment. Sometimes our  pets may have a hard time dealing with too many visitors and that’s ok; just make sure you have another option for them.

If it’s too difficult to explain the rules about how to approach your dog or cat, you can hang up funny holiday-style signs that say “Please don’t feed Duke” or ” Please don’t yell near our cat.”  It’s actually really helpful for company to know ahead of time what appropriate pet -friendly behavior  will keep everyone safe and happy.

Snacks and treats

During the holidays it’s always good to keep cookies,cakes, fruits and hors d’oeuvres on a higher shelf where your cat or dog can’t easily get to them. Chocolate is very dangerous to both dogs and cats. so always remember to keep it out of reach.

When you have company be mindful of how the children are behaving. Children get very excited when there are dogs or cats in the house, and they might feed your pet the wrong type of food by mistake. You don’t have to be a drill sergeant, but it’s good to go over the rules  with children to keep everyone safe and out of trouble.


It’s also beneficial to your dog and family to keep a calm and peaceful environment. Dogs seem to enjoy Christmas carols and CDs with guitars, pianos and sopranos singing. They love hearing the high pitch tones and it’s very relaxing for them. I know Karma enjoys listening to the Celtic Women, they are her favorite.

Adopting a pet during the holidays

During the holidays people will often ask me if I think it’s a good time for families to adopt or buy pets. Please give this idea a lot of thought first. Sometimes people may do this based on emotions which can be fragile during the holidays and it’s a very important and serious decision that has long term consequences for the family and pet too.

Sadly dogs that are bought during Christmas are met with a harsh reality that it may not be a good idea or a good match. Often dogs are returned to adoption centers by Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying it’s absolutely not Ok to do but just be sure of your decision.

In conclusion

I hope these tips will help your family and dogs. Our wonderful four-legged creatures mean the world to us and they are members of the family. The holidays are an amazing time to celebrate our love with them.

Happy holidays, looking forward to the New Year,

Karma, Ken and Catharine.

You can find me (Catharine) at

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Laura Strassman
December 24, 2013 3:56 pm

Nice to see you in print Catherine, dont forget everyone that those poinsettias are poisonous, and so is chocolate and advil- all items that may be in abundance around now.

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