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Mendo Lake Family Life

5 Tips for Holiday Pet Care

The holidays often bring both human and animal visitors into our homes. If you recently adopted a pet, here are tips from the Human Society of Silicon Valley (HSSV) for keeping your new furry friends happy throughout this festive (and sometimes hectic) time.

1. Watch what your pets eat. Dogs may beg at the dinner table, but don’t give in and let them have unhealthy food that’s meant for humans. Instead, give them healthy treats that veterinarians deem safe, such as dog biscuits or cut-up carrots. Absolutely avoid giving them alcoholic drinks, onions, artificial sweeteners, and chocolate—they are poisonous to dogs.

2. Welcome furry visitors. Often a family member will bring their companion animal(s) with them for a holiday gathering. Whether they are staying for a few hours or a few days, it’s important to make sure every animal has a sense of security and safety. If you have cats who are unaccustomed to the presence of dogs, keep them in a part of your home that’s inaccessible to visiting canines. If you’re introducing two dogs, introduce them outdoors, preferably in neutral territory, such as a parking lot. Keep both dogs on leashes when they meet. When it’s established that they get along, walk them back to the house together. When you are not able to monitor them, be sure to separate them.

3. Manage overstimulation. Over stimulation can upset both cats and dogs. If you’re hosting a holiday meal or cocktail party, be sure your animals have a safe space where they can rest, away from the noise and activity. Fill the space with some of their favorite things: a blanket, a bowl of water, a fun toy, etc.

4. Tag and microchip. With lots of people coming in and out of your home during the holidays, it’s easy for someone to forget to shut the door, letting a stressed-out cat or dog slip out. Before the festive season arrives, be sure all of your four-legged companions have pet tags and microchips, just in case they get out. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure your contact information is up-to-date.

5. Let guests know the house rules. If your cat sometimes scratches people or your dog can get nippy, let guests know before they find out for themselves. Setting rules may not seem festive, but visitors will likely appreciate being warned, lest they upset one of your furry family members. Ask guests not to give your pets table scraps or other foods that could make your animals sick (see tip one). 

The Humane Society Silicon Valley needs foster families for dogs and puppies and also has many dogs available for adoption. Learn more about the nonprofit and its programs at