I love the magic that children experience during the holidays, but it can often be a hectic time with family stresses and travel. If your family isn’t right out of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ it can leave you feeling inadequate. For many years I would spend 2 months each winter going to undeveloped countries and doing volunteer veterinary work. Each trip was a new adventure of helping animals, and I got to escape the cold winters of Oregon. I just happened to bypass the holiday activities if I was in a country with an overall different religious population, or I got to experience my holiday activities with the twist of another nation.

Favorite Holiday Activities With Your PetThese days I own a vet clinic and barely get to sneak away for a few days let alone 2 months each year. I now pick and choose my holiday activities. I ignore the bits about the holidays that I dislike. The parts I adore, like people dressed up in elf and Santa costumes, the twinkling lights and festive parties, I embrace. Celebrating the fun activities is how I get through the holidays with a smile on my face.

Here’s to cheesy holiday fun! I figured I’d toss out some holiday activities you might enjoy with your pet. These are things I do with my pets most years. Holidays are extra fun when you have children and pets!

Pet pics with Santa. If you live near a mall or a big pet store you will likely find a photo opportunity for your pet with Santa. Santa and Elf and Mrs. Claus find their way to my veterinary clinic every December for Pet Pics with Santa. It’s a whole lot of fun! I snap photos with my iPad for 4 hours then spend the rest of the day sending the photos to clients. I was up until midnight last year cropping and editing and emailing these photos. Or, if you are more the serious sort, have your family dress up and get your pet groomed for a professional portrait.

Take a long morning holiday walk before everyone wakes up and the chaos begins. Burn some calories before a holiday feast and have some quality time with Fluffy. Many folks feel stress in the holidays. Our critters don’t know why their humans feel stress, but when their people are stressed pets feel stress. Pets are usually our best buds and spending a little extra time with them for an early morning walk will likely calm your nerves before the holiday begins.

Go to a parade. Parades were made for kids and dogs. Many of us enjoy being goofy. And I bet if you think about it, our pets love it when we are acting goofy, too. What dog or cat doesn’t have a good time when the human in the household is dancing and singing songs. What is a parade but a bunch of people dressed up in costumes, singing and dancing and marching? Especially for dogs, that’s a good time!

Make your pet a stocking! Greenies, a new collar, a Feliz Navidad dog sweater, catnip toys… The possibilities are endless. Yes, you will likely get your pet these things anyway over the course of the year, but imagine the fun of giving your sweetie his or her very own stocking filled with favorite things!

Go play in the snow. As a Floridian you might not be surprised that I prefer sand over snow. Nonetheless, when I lived in Oregon I would make it a point of going up to the mountain at least once each winter to let my dog frolic in the snow.

Curl up on the couch with your critters and watch ‘A Christmas Story’ or ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Going to a theater pales compared to watching a show on the couch in your PJs with your pet snuggled up against you.

Holiday decorations! My cats LOVE when I decorate for the holidays. Whether that is dangly lights or simply moving the furniture around. They particularly like sitting under a lit holiday tree. A twinkling holiday tree may just be the best thing ever according to my cats. I don’t have children, but I usually feel compelled to put up a tree for the sake of my cats. They just love it!

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work and is the President and Founder of Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida.
Dr . Joi Sutton