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What To Do When a Holiday Guest Shows Up With a Pet
Date:12/17/2007

California Veterinary Medical Association Provides Tips to Maintain Peace

and Goodwill Among Invited Guests and Their Furry Friends

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- You have the tree decorated and holiday plans prepared -- then suddenly you get a call from guests who want to bring their pet along to your house. How do you respond appropriately and still make them feel welcome?

"It's not uncommon for guests to bring pets to holiday parties because they consider their animals a part of the family and no longer want to leave them at home," said Dr. Jeff Smith, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). "Nevertheless, whether you're a pet lover or not, it's always good to be prepared if ever asked to house a four-legged visitor during times of festive gatherings."

The CVMA encourages people to ask the following questions before deciding whether to accept or refuse a pet visitor:

-- If you have pets of your own, how will they react? How will other

guests and young children respond?

-- Is the visit for a short time, a few hours or several days, and what

will that mean in terms of accommodating the pet?

-- How might the breed, size and disposition of the pet impact the type

of event you are hosting?

-- Do you know about the visiting pet's behavior? Is it well behaved, a

brand new puppy or an older animal? Is it accustomed to being around

a lot of people and activity? How might it react to unfamiliar

surroundings?

-- Where would the animal stay? Indoors or outdoors? Confined or

allowed to roam?

-- What if the dog barks too much or the cat scratches furniture?

-- Will anyone participating in the holiday festivities have pet

allergies?

-- Are you willing to risk a friendship if your guests are offended

because you do not want their pet to be included?

By answering these questions, you should be able to define your expectations and house rules for pet visitors. In many cases, the experience will turn out to be a happy one if you find out more about the visiting pet and let your guests know honestly what your boundaries are up front.

Once you accept a guest pet, make the animal comfortable by following these tips:

-- Keep the animal confined to a quiet area of the house if it tends to

get overly anxious or beg for food around the table.

-- Make sure the pet has a safe retreat from well-intentioned visitors,

children and your own pets.

-- Watch for open doors, and make sure the pet has an ID tag and/or

microchip in case it gets out.

-- Keep candles, holiday decorations and food out of reach of animals.

Light strands, loose wires and electric cords can be serious hazards,

and chocolate can be toxic to an animal.

-- Make sure guests don't feed the pet food scraps. Small bones or

fragments may lodge in the animal's throat, stomach or intestinal

tract.

If you choose to refuse a guest pet, consider these options:

-- Call your veterinarian to find out about nearby kennels where the

animal can stay.

-- Log onto PetTravel.com, which has a free listing of pet-friendly

hotels around the world offering special amenities for pets, including

dog walking and training, plush dog beds and even special pet menus

and massages.

-- Don't be afraid to say a courteous "no" in the first place; a guest

may be fine with it, and your anxiety over the issue will be all for

naught.

-- Strike a compromise with your guests and suggest another time and

place to get together with them and the animal: a park, a campsite or

a hotel willing to accommodate pets.

And, finally, don't ask a guest to do what you are not willing to do yourself. Practice pet etiquette at all times wherever you go. As a pet owner, if you don't think your own pet can adapt to a new environment or is constantly misbehaving, it's best to leave it at home or in trusting hands where it can be properly cared for while you are away.

The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 6,000 members. Founded in 1888, its mission is to serve its membership and community through innovative leadership and to improve animal and human health in an ethically and socially responsible manner.


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SOURCE California Veterinary Medical Association
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