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Pet lovers often find their companion animals to be the center of their worlds. Data from the ASPCA says approximately 44 percent of all American households have a dog and 35 percent have a cat. Similarly, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, in partnership with Hill's Science Diet, found that roughly 35 percent of Canadian households have a dog, while 38 percent have a cat.
Cats and dogs are cherished family members, earning gifts and premiere spots for lounging around the house. But even in pet-friendly homes, certain concessions may need to be made when entertaining. And don't forget about safety in regard to your pets, who may be frightened by the noise and commotion when guests arrive.
• "Party animals": Many animals are right at home during parties, while the sights, sounds and aromas may cause anxiety in others. For pets known to be a bit skittish, establish a safe haven for them away from the festivities. Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible, and include comfort items.
• Know your guests. Some people enjoy playing with others' pets, while others may be more hesitant around animals. Ask guests how they feel about pets and then make accommodations based on their responses.
• Pet behavior: If yours is a boisterous puppy who loves jumping up on others, or a cat that can't resist napping on guests' laps while seated on the couch, he or she may need to sit the party out. Pets that behave well and know how to stay quiet may be better suited to hang out during the festivities.
• Clean up well. For guests who suffer from pet allergies, having animals around can be uncomfortable. Placing pets in another room and using a HEPA vacuum to go over carpets, upholstery and drapes may help tame the dander and fur that can trigger reactions among people who are allergic to pets.
• Food and escape routes: Pets may try to eat party food that can be toxic to them. Guests will need to throw away scraps instead of leaving them out where items can be consumed by curious pets. Also, advising guests to exercise caution when entering and exiting the house can prevent nervous pets from escaping into the neighborhood.
Pet owners need to consider their pets' demeanors before entertaining guests at home.