Christmas is a magical time of year. But it's usually pretty busy too, and pets might not be so comfortable with the change of routine.
So, what can you do to keep pets safe and relaxed during the celebrations?
Be careful with the decorations
Putting up the tree and the decorations is essential to kicking off the Christmas period, but the reality is that tinsel and the assortment of baubles on the tree present a hazard to your pets.
For example, pets like to sniff and nibble on just about anything, even things that could make them really ill, so it’s a good idea to ensure that any decorations you use are clearly labelled as non-toxic. You should also avoid decorating pet cages and beds with tinsel, so they're not tempted to turn it into a chew toy.
Similarly, be careful not to place edible decorations or chocolates on the tree, as they are not usually made for pets’ sensitive tummies and could make them poorly.
Beat the freeze
If you keep pets outside ‒ such as rabbits or guinea pigs ‒ then the Christmas period presents its own unique challenges. You may not be able to spend as much time with them as usual if you are playing host or travelling to see family.
The cold temperatures mean it’s even more important to give them extra bedding to help them keep warm. You’ll need to change it regularly, too, as wet bedding is likely to freeze, which isn’t good for your pets.
Be sure to check their water a couple of times a day, in case it has frozen.
Give them space
You may have guests in your house at Christmas. This can be overwhelming and stressful for pets, especially if they aren't used to it.
It’s worth setting aside a quiet space for your pets to escape the noise, where they are unlikely to be disturbed by your guests. Make it comfortable by stocking it with food, drink, bedding and their favourite toys.
It may also be a good idea to let your pets meet any guests at their own pace, rather than letting visitors greet them all at once.
If you have small pets in the house, like hamsters, then remember that they can be very sensitive to high frequency sounds that people don’t hear. So, if things are going to get lively, consider moving their cage somewhere quiet, where they are unlikely to be disturbed.
Stick to the usual routine
It’s a good idea to try to keep your pets’ daily routine as close to normal as possible. If your dog is used to a long walk first thing in the morning, try to maintain that, if you can. The less things change, the less likely they are to feel stressed by the Christmas experience.
Tiring your dog out with a long walk can also be a good idea if you have guests coming over, as it may mean they are less likely to get excited at the arrival of visitors.
Make time for your pet
There is always plenty to do during the festive period, whether it’s wrapping gifts, cooking treats or simply spending time with your family.
As a result, it’s easy to forget to spend quality time with your pet, which they’re likely to notice. So, try to make time to play with them, and give them some attention.
Hoover up any mess
Whether you’ve got a natural tree or a plastic one, anything that falls off is potentially harmful to your pets if they try to eat it.
So, remember to regularly hoover around the tree to remove any troublesome pines.
Make them feel at home
If you’re visiting family and taking your dog with you, then it’s a good idea to bring something familiar to put them at ease.
This could be a favourite toy or perhaps their bedding ‒ anything to help them feel comfortable in what may be new and intimidating surroundings.
If you take the time to consider your pets' needs this Christmas, they can also enjoy a happy, stress-free festive break.