Party Animals: Entertaining in a Home With Pets
Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or are simply taking advantage of good weather to entertain family and friends, it’s important to understand that your pets may not share your enthusiasm for a party or a big backyard BBQ.
In fact, despite the term “party animals,” lots of dogs and cats don’t like raucous gatherings with a lot of what they consider to be strangers (aka your friends and relatives) invading their space. Some pets get really spooked and anxious when there’s any unusual activity in the home. Even moving furniture around can upset them. From their standpoint, it’s a cause of stress and anxiety.
Prevent great escapes
One of the biggest problems with entertaining is that front doors and outside gates are often left open and unmonitored. This means that pets can slip out and run away. By the time you notice their absence, several hours may have passed. And this doesn’t only apply to the duration of your event but during set-up too – especially if you have caterers or have rented chairs and tables.
Both cats and dogs, even if they are micro-chipped, should wear a collar with an up-to-date ID tag on it.
And check that your pet is wearing her collar. Often the collar comes off for a bath or a grooming session and not replaced afterwards. Double-checking is another layer of peace of mind.
Give pets a private “party”
Many pets will be much happier and safer if you sequester them in a designated room or portion of your house, and keep them away from your guests. And again, it’s a really good idea to do this during set-up, too.
So give them their own “party” by making them self-sufficient and content with lots of distraction toys and treat puzzles in the area where you have decided to confine them.
Be sure to include food and water, and a litter box for your cat. As far as your dog is concerned, take him for a long walk beforehand so he can have a potty break. Put a note on the door advising guests not to open it because there are pets inside.
Tricks to reduce stress
If your pets are particularly anxious around noise and people, it may be a good idea to use a pheromone plug-in in the area where they will be staying to help them relax.
Pheromones are a substance that mother dogs and cats produce to calm their young. They help alleviate stress-induced behaviors such as pet/owner separation, inappropriate marking, chewing and destructive behaviors. Plug-ins need time to allow the pheromones to circulate in the room, so be sure to do this a couple of days in advance. They usually last a month.
Another alternative is to consider a garment such as a ThunderShirt for your dog or cat. They come in all sizes, not to mention some fun patterns and colors, too. They work on the swaddling principle that mothers use to calm babies and small children, and are recommended by many animal behaviorists.
“Please DON’T feed me!”
If you are entertaining on a small scale and feel there’s no need to keep pets contained, make sure that they don’t help themselves to any food you may have put out in advance.
It’s okay to politely ask your friends not to feed your pets at the table or outside – even if your four-legged pal begs. Some foods, such as onions and grapes, are toxic to cats and dogs.
And it’s not cute to give your dog or cat a glass of beer. It can make them really sick.
When you are barbecuing, watch those leftovers such as bones and corncobs. They are choking hazards for pets.
Hazards of post-party clean-up
Once your guests have left and you let your pets out, don’t let your guard down. Your pets might clean up, too! Make sure they don’t get into the kitchen when your back is turned and help themselves to leftovers or raid the trash. Or, even worse, get into that box of chocolates a guest brought as a hostess gift.
Speaking of gifts, if you are planning to entertain, it’s a really good idea to give your pet a gift of a new toy. The novelty of something new will help keep your dog or cat engaged while you are with your friends.
Taking proper precautions helps ensure that everyone enjoys the party, including your pets.