We love Christmas - lights, different routine, carols, visiting friends and relatives, decorations, parties… but sadly for our pets, this can be a horrible time. The trouble is, we and our pets all too often see the world in fundamentally different ways:
So, in this blog, let’s look at how we can reconcile those two worlds! Our pets may not love the season quite as much as we do, but we can certainly do a lot to help them cope with it better.
Lights, Carols, Decoration…
We are definitely NOT telling you not to decorate the house! But when you do, try to decorate in a manner that is pet-safe: i.e. nothing at bitable or clawable level... Cats, for example, love to climb up Christmas trees - so get one with a tall base, or place it on a table or in a very large pot, to reduce the risk. Make sure too that lights and other decorations are high enough to avoid biting. In addition, in whichever room your pets primarily live, consider minimising the decorations and the noise level.
A lazy holiday lie-in sounds good to us, but won’t make you popular with the pets who are expecting to be walked, fed or let out on schedule, thank you very much! If you’re late, your liable to find a desperate dog or a cat who’s simply given up and moved out.
Instead, try to gradually alter the routine over several days, and then establish a “holiday schedule” that you can stick to before weaning back onto “work time” in the New Year.
Visits and Visitors
While going out is great - remember your pets waiting for you at home! Make sure that dogs are walked, fed, and then offered a chance to wee and poo before you leave; likewise, make sure cats are left with litter trays or an unlocked catflap. And try not to be back too late for them - they’re probably sitting up worrying about you!
Having visitors to the house is a double edged sword. OK, you’ll be around and your pets aren’t left alone - but on the other hand there are all these strangers in their house! The best thing you can do is make sure that they have somewhere to go and hide away if they want. So, just like in Fireworks Season, make sure they have a den, with their own blankets and toys, that they can retreat too when it all gets a bit too much.
Of course, there are some pets (especially dogs, but some cats too) who go to the other extreme - they love visitors and try and climb on them, or drool all over them, or in extreme cases get waaay too friendly with their legs (enough said…). In these cases, a nice safe den is equally vital - to protect your guests from the regular residents!
Destress this Christmas
Whatever the reason(s), many cats and dogs find Christmas a bit stressful. So as well as these management tips, consider using Adaptil or Feliway to promote a sense of festive calm!
If your pet finds any change really challenging, give us a ring for personalised advice - our vets and nurses will try to help you find a way to help them cope, and if not, we can refer you to a good behaviourist.