Holiday How To: Introducing Your Pets to Your Family & Their Pets

Holiday How To: Introducing Your Pets to Your Family & Their Pets

Happy dogHappy dog
Happy dogHappy dog

Heading home the holidays is always something to look forward to when winter rolls around. Seeing family, baking holiday cookies, bundling up and hitting a sledding hill, watching The Grinch and Christmas Vacation for the 25th time. For some, it’s also a treat to see their old family pet that they see far less often now that they live on their own.

But what should you do with the pet you live with now? Many pet owners choose to bring their pet along with them on their holiday travels. Leaving your cat or dog alone while you’re on an extended vacation isn’t advisable, and kennelling your pet can rack up a pricy tab in a hurry. With travel and gift giving already taking up resources, who wants to the additional expense of kenneling your pet? If you’re bringing your pet home with you, there are some things you’ll think about and prepare for before you do.


Is Anyone’s Allergic?

Before heading home for the holiday break, talk to the family and friends you expect to see. Especially the ones that will be staying where you and your pet will be bunking during your stay. You’ll want to let them know that you’re bringing along your new pal. If you have cat, there’s a reasonable chance that someone in your family will be allergic to Mr. Kitty.

About 10 percent of people are allergic to cats, and if they aren’t prepared with their allergy medications their holiday break will be spent coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and in a general unpleasant mood. If they do have an a cat allergy, the best course of action is to keep the cat out of the room that they’ll be sleeping in. If there is a floor away from that bedroom, ideally a basement,  that your cat can set up as her base for the trip that’s the most ideal. Keep her litter, food, and toys down there and away from the allergic family member or friend. Dog allergies are also something to consider, but are far less prevalent than cat allergies.

Will There Be Other Pets?

After getting a read on who might have allergies to your pet, the next step is collecting an inventory on the other animals that might be present. No, your Uncle Eddy does count as an animal.  It’s important to understand if there are animals at the house both for your pet and the other animals. If your cat or dog is playful with others, doesn’t mean that the other animals will play nice back — and vice versa. This is especially true with cats, who are very territorial, and with animals of different ages. If your family has an older dog who’s lived at the house for a long time, he might not receive the energy of your puppy very well.

Make sure you ask the other pet owners about vaccinations. You’ll want to make sure that all the animals at the house are properly vaccinated, including your animal. If one of the animals hasn’t been properly vaccinated, or is behind schedule on vaccinations, you need to talk about a solution for that. Suggest that the pet that isn’t up to date on their vaccinations take a visit to the vet before you and your pet arrive. The last thing anyone wants is for someone’s pet to get sick over the holiday break.

Introducing Your Pet to Other Pets

The key to introducing animals is to be patient and take it slow. Though we all want our pets and others pets to immediately snuggle up in calendar-worthy cuteness, the chances of that happening, at least right away, are incredibly rare. When you arrive at the house with your cat or dog, settle them into a bedroom or closed off room at first. You’ll want the resident to get use to the smell of your pet before they meet each other. The smell of your pet will register rather quickly with the resident pet, and you’ll notice a change in behavior. The resident pet might become nervous, scared, excited, curious, or confused. Give the resident pet some time to come to terms with the smell. While the resident pet does so, make sure it’s getting plenty of attention and petting.

After giving the two some space for a bit, take a sock and rub your pet down with it. Pet around the ears with the sock, under the belly, and back up the back towards your pet’s neck. Then, take the sock and let pat down the resident pet with it. This will start to associate the smell of your pet, with a positive experience for the resident animal. After you are down showering the resident animal in affection, take the sock back to your animal and do the same. When done with each, give the pets a treat to double down on the positive reinforcement.

Once you’ve completed this step, you’re ready to introduce your pets. Do this slowly as well, and if the animals show signs of aggression separate them and try again after some time passes. If you’re dealing with dogs, this will likely do the trick. Cats can be a bit more standoffish to other pets, so be patient with them and don’t get frustrated. If you grow frustrated or raise your voice at the animals for not getting along, you’re compounding the negative experience.

Learn More About Your Pet

Hopefully your holiday trip goes wonderfully and that if your pet is introduced to new pets that they’ll become fast pals. If you’re looking for reading material while you travel, or simply want to gobble up some more info about your precious little pet, then you’ve come to the perfect place. PetPlace has thousands of vet-approved animal articles that will teach you anything from whistle training your dog to toilet training your cat — yes that’s something you can do! Happy holidays and safe travels to your and your pets!

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