We all know that Christmas can be a very exciting time – but for your pets it can also be very stressful. There are lots of people around, some of whom will be completely new to them, along with lots of loud noises, decorations changing their environment and a huge change in routine – it’s not really a surprise that a lot of animals act out at this time of year. Even with the limited Christmas Covid-19 will give us, there will still be some stress for your pets, so this month I wanted to share a few tips to help reduce stress for your pet, and keep them happy and healthy over the festive period.
Cats & Dogs
Cats and dogs are maybe the most prone to the stresses of Christmas, as they will be in the thick of all the changes. And whether they try and hide away from it all or want to be the centre of attention, they will feel a sense of stress from the change in routine. A few things you can do to keep them happy and comfortable include:
- Try to keep food, exercise, bed and toilet routines the same as normal. Consistency can help your pet feel secure, even when everything else is changing around them.
- If you have guests coming over, try to let your dog or cat meet them at their own pace. Don’t force interactions, as it will only cause stress.
- Make sure you pet has somewhere cost and quiet to retreat to and hide, away from the main entertainment area so they won’t be disturbed by anyone. Leave them some toys and familiar objects so that they know it’s a safe place to be.
- For cats particularly, try to create some extra hidey-holes for them to bolt to in case they feel unsure. Under beds, tops of wardrobes or even cardboard boxes can be good options.
- Try not to leave your pets alone for too long, particularly if they aren’t used to it, as this could cause them distress.
- If you’re spending Christmas with family and you’re bringing your dog with you, make sure you take something that smells familiar, like their favourite blanket, along with some of their favourite chews and toys to keep them entertained.
If you keep outdoor animals like rabbits and guinea pigs will need extra bedding during the cold weather. You will also need to make sure their bedding is kept clean, as wet bedding can freeze on cold nights and lead to illnesses. You should also make sure they have fresh clean water to drink, and check at least twice a day to make sure it isn’t frozen.
You might not think that the smaller animals in your life are particularly affected by Christmas, but they very much are. There are a few things you can do to help keep them settled:
- Make sure nocturnal animals like hamsters are kept somewhere that they aren’t going to be disturbed by visitors during the day.
- Keep any visiting animals, like dogs, away from small furries, as this could cause stress and even heart attacks.
- Small animals are very sensitive to high-frequency sounds that we can’t hear, so try to keep them away from TV’s and sound systems. If you’re having loud music on, consider moving their cage to a quieter part of the house.
- Make sure you keep cages away from fairy lights and electrical cables. It might look cute, but they can nibble trough the wires and injure themselves, or worse.
General Christmas Advice
And then, there’s some general good advice for all pet owners, no matter what the animal is. First, make sure you have the number of an emergency vet on hand, just in case there is an accident, or if you pet eats something they shouldn’t (very common with dogs). If your pet is on any kind of medication, then get in touch with the vet and make sure you’re stocked up and ready for the holidays, so you don’t get caught short while the vets are closed. And finally, if you’re going away for Christmas, make sure you have plans in place for you pets -whether they’re coming with you or not.
If you have any questions or concerns over your pet’s health, or you just want to make sure they are as happy as they can be come the new year, I would be happy to help. Just get in touch to book your free consultation. And in the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – I look forward to seeing you all in 2021!