Vacations can be stressful for everyone, including pets

LANSING – If your dog dumps Thanksgiving dinner on that brand-new rug, don’t blame her.

Instead, remember to include them in your next holiday meeting plans.

“Pets are used to routine,” said Nora Weinland, a veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “So giving them something that isn’t generally part of their routine isn’t a great idea.”

Keeping your meals away from pets, making sure pets are properly identified in case they escape and finding a safe, stress-free area to relax during company visits are department-recommended actions for keeping your pet safe during vacations.
Pet routines may be thrown off when their owners host Thanksgiving or travel to other gatherings.
“There are a lot of situations where pets may not be used to visitors,” Weinland said. “Holiday brings visitors to it, and that can be very stressful for pets.”
Stressed pets in unfamiliar environments can cause animal control officers to intervene with unwanted issues during happy gatherings, said Tim Plogger, deputy animal control officer for Oceana County.
“I would say more than running, we see dog bites,” Plogger said. “A lot of people who come into the house can stress out a dog who may not be used to it.”
Gatherings with pets that are easily disturbed by visitors and loud conversations, Weinland said, should find a quiet room in the house where the pets can stay. Fill the room with food, water, and other essentials.
Or consider bringing your pet.
“We weren’t quite booked,” said John Cotten, owner of Cotten’s Sunset Kennels in Ludington, which boards animals for the holidays. “But we are busy.”
And if pets aren’t nervous, he is. Thanksgiving at Cotten’s house is filled with work and his own family gathering.

“My family is very understanding,” Cotten said. “They know I have to take care of the dogs. I have dogs that check in and out on Thanksgiving Day.”
On top of just watching the dogs, Cotten trains the dogs that stay with him. Training helps keep pets away from food or garbage that makes them sick and prevents people from enjoying their Thanksgiving meal.
“We know about something called place,” Cotten said. “So the dogs just hang out in one place and have to think about staying there. They’re not confined, they’re part of the family, but they don’t get into trouble.”
People may not be interested in a pet for the duration of a gathering, Weinland warns, and someone’s dog or cat may be sneaking around. In this scenario, how you get to know this pet and its owners is important.
“They can easily get lost,” Weinland said. “Having an ID card and having an electronic chip allows it to be scanned by a local humane society or at a veterinary clinic and brought home again and reunited with its owner.”

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