Christmas can be one of the most exciting times of the year, but with our houses full of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes, have you ever stopped and thought about what impact the festive period has on our four-legged friends? Pets find it difficult to cope with change; they get used to that 6am walk every morning or curling up in their favourite bay window, so when December comes along and the family has a lie-in and a large tree is put in their usual spot, it can become a confusing time for them.
To ensure our pets can relax at Christmas, Jenny Philip, practising vet and Managing Director of natural pet food brand Vet’s Kitchen, shares her tops tips on how we can help reduce the stress Christmas can have on our pets.
1. Start putting up your Christmas decorations early and gradually make changes over a period of days, rather than a drastic transformation overnight. Your Christmas tree will look a lot like the one your pet climbs outside, so they will be confused when you tell them off for climbing it or using it as a scratching post. Sparkly baubles look like a fun toy for cats – until they fall from the tree and smash.
2. It’s important to stick to your pet’s normal feeding and exercising routine. We all like to indulge at Christmas, but many human Christmas treats such as chocolate and mince pies are extremely toxic to dogs. To ensure your pet doesn’t get a poorly tummy, we advise sticking to their usual diets and treating them to some natural, hypoallergenic pet treats instead.
3. Store presents well and truly out of reach from your pets. We all love to display our beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, but there is often nothing more tempting than a shiny wrapped object that smells delicious for pets to mischievously explore while we’re out of sight.
4. A house full of excited visitors can often make our pets feel anxious and scared. I recommend having a safe and quiet area for your pets, with familiar toys and smells, to escape to if the day becomes a little too much. A covered crate works well for dogs or a high place for worried cats to hide away.
5. Be aware of all the extra loud noises and cracker bangs throughout the day. Many pets, especially young ones, will have never heard a cracker bang before, so ensure you give them lots of fuss throughout the day and try to keep the party poppers to a minimum.