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Pets and parties don't always mix

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Pets and parties don't always mix

Pets have become much more than companion animals. For many people, pets are full-fledged members of the family. People who are proud of their pets may want them to be around when friends and family visit, including those special occasions when hosting a party at home. Yet not all pets enjoy the boisterous nature of parties, and not all guests are excited about being in proximity to animals. Party hosts must keep the safety and comfort of their pets and guests in mind during the party.

Certain elements of a party can be hazardous to pets. For example, the ASPCA warns that children's toys may not be pet-friendly. Furthermore, balloons can frighten animals should they pop, and the remnants can present a serious choking hazard. Pets can swallow other items, including party sandwich toothpicks or even ribbon from gifts, which can get lodged in their digestive tracts and cause injury.

Foods served at parties may cause digestive distress for pets. Should a dog or cat consume cake and other sweets he or she may vomit or suffer from diarrhea. Certain foods, including chocolate, raisins, grapes, garlic, and onions, can be toxic to pets in high quantities. Pets that end up lapping up alcoholic beverages can become quite ill. Alcohol poisoning can occur even when a pet consumes a small amount of alcohol. According to author Becky Lundgren, DVM, pets can die from alcohol ingestion, depending on the level of ethanol in the drink. A veterinarian should be contacted if a pet has had an alcoholic beverage.

Well-behaved pets may not behave in the same manner when their home is filled with party guests. Animals can be territorial, and when their daily routine is disrupted and people have infiltrated their space, pets can become skittish and defensive. Overwhelmed by sensory overload, a generally docile pet may lash out. Overly excited animals may bite or scratch, especially when in the presence of children who might not know the proper ways to act around pets. Loud party noises, including music or fireworks, could drive up anxiety levels for pets as well.

Having a number of people around makes it difficult for the party host to keep track of a pet while the party is in full swing. A pet frightened by the commotion may end up getting loose and running away from home. Guests entering and exiting the home may not realize they are leaving an escape route for pets. It may be several hours before hosts realize a pet is missing.

Even if a pet is well behaved during the party, the sheer number of people around puts him or her at risk for injury. A small dog or cat or another animal could be trampled in a crowd of people. Well-meaning guests may pick up a pet and then drop him should he wiggle around. Children unaccustomed to handling an animal may be rough or squeeze the pet, increasing the risk for internal injuries.

While there are many safety hazards for pets at parties, guests may also be at risk. Some people have mild to severe allergies to certain animals. Being in close proximity may cause some people to experience discomfort or even a severe allergic reaction. People who are generally scared of dogs or cats may not be able to relax and have a good time if an animal is nearby. Not everyone shares the same level of affection for companion animals, so pets should never be thrust upon unwilling guests.

A good rule of thumb is to keep pets locked away indoors in a room that is out of the way of the party. The animal can feel safe and secure in a quiet nook until the festivities quiet down. Party hosts should check in on their pets from time to time and reassure the animals. If a pet is prone to extreme anxiety from noises and crowds, speak to the animal's veterinarian to determine if there is a way to calm the animal.

Ensure pets and people have a good time at parties by keeping the comfort of both in mind.

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There are times when pets and party guests are best kept apart.