The holiday season is in full swing, and one of the most wonderful times of the year is officially upon us! It’s a season of giving, a season of reflecting on who and what we are most thankful for, a season of celebrating the beautiful memories of 2016 and a season of setting new goals for the upcoming year. There’s no better way to end 2016 and welcome 2017 than to be surrounded by our closest friends and family, and of course, our lovable pets! Whether it’s your year to host the holiday family reunion, or if you’re hosting the New Year’s Eve party with all of your closest friends and their families, remember to keep your pets’ health, safety and happiness in mind so that the holiday get-together goes down in the books as the best one yet!

If you’re a dog-owner, you know this better than anyone; dogs seem to have an endless appetite and somehow always have an abundance of energy beyond what several espresso shots could give anyone! We love our best friends with all of our hearts and want the best for them, and with this desire requires us to take precaution when having guests over while our pets are home so that they are relaxed, happy and content.

The saying goes, “it’s the calm before the storm…”

If you know your dog gets overly excited, jittery or aggressive around other people, consider these different ways you can help keep your pets calm during the party:

•Work it Out. Exercising them regularly is always beneficial to their health, but if you’re hosting a holiday party and your lovable, energetic pooch is sticking around the house, it’s a wise idea to give your best friend a really good work out before the party starts so that they feel less nervous and energetic later on. Go for a jog, or take an extra long walk with them. They’ll want to rest from exhaustion while your guests are over.

•Treat Yo’ self. (Well actually, your dog.) Buy them a bone that will take them a while to finish off! If they have good teeth, give them a tasty party treat to munch on during the holiday get-together. Large bones usually run around $10-$20 that will keep your pup occupied for at least an hour or two, and as long as they’re preoccupied with their tasty treat, you can go back to focusing on your guests!

•Set the vibe. Make sure to be aware of your energy at the party. Your dog’s energy usually reflects your energy and presence — if you act uptight, anxious, or hyper, your dog will pick up on those vibes and mirror them with its own behavior. It’s important for you to speak to your dog in a calm, comforting voice, particularly while around your guests so that your best friend feels as relaxed and at ease as you are.

•You’re the DJ! Who’d have thought, but classical music calms more than babies — it’ll also calm your dog’s nerves as well and put them in a relaxing state. Try playing classical music around the house for a couple of hours before your guests start to arrive so that your pet is in a calm state of mind.

•Stick to the Essentials. Essential oils can be helpful in keeping your pup calm and relaxed. Something you need to know before using them is that animal aromatherapy is different from human aromatherapy, so make sure you are using a pet-friendly oil. To avoid your dog feeling stress and anxiety while the party’s going on, here’s a list of some helpful essential oils you can use. (Do not apply directly inside their ears. You can apply them around the outside of the ears, around the neck, and on their paws.)

-Clary Sage
-Ylang Ylang
-Sweet Orange
-Cedar wood
-Roman Chamomile

If you try one or more of those helpful tricks, your pooch should be all set for the party! One thing these tricks can’t do is curb your dog’s eating habits or disguise the delicious smells of holiday delights from their noses. And food is another important topic to consider before your shindig takes place.

Depending on the age of your guests, it’s likely some families will bring their kids along.  Kid or adult, when a puppy looks at you with those cute, sappy, please-feed-me eyes while you’re sitting at the dinner table, it’s almost too hard to refuse. But not all foods us humans consume are okay for dogs to consume. Many foods can threaten your dog’s health, so it’s a good idea for you to know what some of those are before hosting a party.

•Chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for your pup. Which is super sad, because we just want our pets to enjoy all of the wonderful chocolatey bites! Unfortunately, the caffeine and theobromine in the chocolate can be deadly to animals. Looking on the bright side, while Hershey’s kisses may be bad for them, regular kisses never will be!

•Avocado. It sounds locos. If you have the party-favorite guac & chips at your shindig, be careful not to let your best friend dig his or her nose into the guacamole because just about all parts of avocados are toxic to animals.

•Xylitol. An ingredient consumed by many but unrecognizable to many more, this artificial sweetener is found in sugar-free foods. If a dog consumes it, his or her blood sugar levels will drastically drop, which could result in seizures depending on your pup’s body’s reaction.

•Dairy Products. We’ve all seen the sweet pictures of kids and their best friends sharing ice cream on a cone as if it was a tootsie pop, and ice cream is a popular dessert at holiday parties. But surprisingly, most dogs are actually lactose intolerant, and therefore may end up having excessive gas or diarrhea if they consume too much.

But Good news! You don’t have to worry about your pooch getting ahold of harmful foods at your holiday event because there’s an easy way to deter your guests from feeding your dogs table scraps. Have a tray of adorable, homemade holiday dog treats that both kids and adults can take from to treat your dogs! There are many animal-friendly recipes online that are fun to make, and plus, it provides your guests with a fun activity to do while at your party (it’s a winner with kids especially!). You can decorate them to match the theme of your holiday party, and your best friend will love you for it!

Wherever you decide to spend the holidays this year, be sure to pay close attention to the health and happiness of your pets — they deserve it. Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!