Healthspan November 17, 2017

A stress-free Christmas is surely every pet owner’s dream and while this may not be 100% possible due to pets’ unpredictable behaviour, it’s sure worth a try.

Staying at home?

Over the festive period, it’s easy to let routines slide as the weather gets colder and social events seem to happen every weekend; there’s also the great temptation to just curl up and have duvet day with your pet. However in all the excitement, it’s important to maintain their usual routine, whether that’s their usual feeding times or for dogs, their daily walks. If the colder, wet weather is not enticing either of you out, invest in a jumper or coat for your dog and remember to wear reflective clothing and lights to be seen.

Travelling?

Travelling with a pet can be a stressful experience, especially if they are of a nervous disposition or get car sick. Christmas time can often mean travelling to visit loved ones or perhaps a winter break at a pet-friendly hotel, either way preparation is crucial so be sure to do short practice runs in the car if they have never experienced travel before. Invest in a comfortable and spacious crate for your cat and dog and practice coaxing them in in the lead up to the journey. Make sure you take along their favourite toys, a water bowl and a warm blanket. If your journey is likely to be longer than 2 hours, make sure you take regular toilet and stretch breaks. If your dog seems really anxious, consider a calming supplement to relax them during the trip.

Once you arrive at your destination, whether it’s a relative’s home or a hotel, let them slowly adjust to their new surroundings. Guide them around the house room by room and let them take in the new smells and sounds. If possible create a private, quiet and comfortable space for them with their own bedding and toys to make them feel safe and secure.

A few extra tips

Gifts: some 70% of dogs get Christmas gifts from their owners¹ and we’re sure cats aren’t left out either! There are so many pet gifts out there but not all of them are safe, so remember to:

  • Take tags off any toys if you are planning on wrapping them
  • Remove glued-on or protruding eyes or noses on toy mice, for example
  • Avoid toys with strings or ribbons are these may be ingested.
  • Steer away from toys stuffed with beads or beans as these can be a choking hazard.
  • For dogs, opt for larger balls rather than ones that are too small and could be easily swallowed.

Outfits: Instagram may be full of cute-looking dressed up pets at this time of year but are they really happy about it? If you do want to dress up your pet this Christmas, remember the following:

  • Don’t choose costumes that are too big or too small and opt for high quality ones rather than cheap, scratchy materials
  • Avoid outfits with loose bells, string or baubles as they could pose a choking threat
  • If your pet is trying to shake it off or is constantly pawing at it, it’s a sign to take it off.

Dinner: many human foods can be harmful to pets but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should miss out on a little extra on the big day itself. Why not try:

  • Whipping them up their own special, pet-friendly dinner or if they usually have tuna or beef why not try some turkey-flavoured pet food?
  • Making some pet-friendly treats to hide in their new toys or around the house?

References
1 Vetsnow, (2018), 21 Christmas staples you shouldn’t let your dog near (infographic).

 

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