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Kansas State University
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Manhattan, KS 66506
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Source: Dr. Susan Nelson, 785-532-5690, snelson@vet.k-state.edu
http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/nelsonbio.html
News release prepared by: Kristin Hodges, 785-532-6415, khodges2@k-state.edu

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009

Pets and the holidays:
K-STATE VETERINARIAN SAYS HOSTS SHOULD CONSIDER HOW THEIR PET AND GUESTS WILL INTERACT AT GATHERINGS

MANHATTAN -- Though you love your pet, keep in mind that your guests might not appreciate having your four-legged friend at holiday celebrations.

Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University, said when having guests over for the holidays, you have to consider how your company will respond to your pets and how your pet will respond to strangers in the home.

"Not everyone likes animals, and some people are very fearful," Nelson said. "You need to be considerate of those who may be afraid of or allergic to your pet."

For your pet, particularly a shy animal, Nelson said it can be difficult for it to accept a crowd of people, especially with little time to prepare. Many pets would take weeks, months or even years to work through their timidity. While cats will typically hide if many people are visiting, Nelson said some dogs can get agitated with new people around.

"The considerate thing to do for your pet would be to put it in a room while you have people over," she said.

This also is good for your pet's safety, because a lot of traffic opens the chance that your pet could escape out the door. When putting your pet in a separate room, Nelson said you can give it a favorite toy or a blanket for comfort. You also can turn on the television or radio to muffle the noise from the party. For extreme phobias, you can talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications for your pet.

She said if a pet is used to a crate, it's best to keep it there rather than letting it run around a room. Crates often give dogs a feeling of safety, she said. It's also helpful to get the animal used to being in the room by itself before the party.

If there is no conflict with your guests, a friendly animal can stay around your visitors. But Nelson suggests at least putting your pet away when everyone begins eating, especially if it begs at the table.

Pet owners also should realize that pets often can get to food that is left out on coffee tables for guests.

"If your animal has food allergies, ask people not to feed it snacks," Nelson said. "Too many tidbits also can lead to gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis. Again, the best way to avoid that is to keep your party animal away from the action."