Christmas is already an extremely stressful time for the family, with lots of presents to buy, food to prepare, people to make happy. Nobody wants an ill or injured pet to add to it.
You know your pet best and, based on previous experience, should be able to make a good attempt at predicting how your pet will deal with a change in routine over the Christmas period. You should think about:
If your pet tends to be anxious around new people, introduce people slowly. Avoid bringing them into a busy room full of new faces. It may be advised to leave your pet in a quiet room, however be sure to check on them regularly. Some animals may not like being left alone if they know company is nearby. This assessment is pet dependant and needs to be decided by you.
Do not leave your pet unattended for long periods of time over Christmas season as there are so many more exciting objects around that can be dangerous hazards. Pets become extremely curious as their surroundings alter and investigation may lead to a crisis!
Do not change your pet’s diet. Most other things within your pet’s normal routine will slightly change, whether that’s the walking time or length, exercise or bedtime. Try to keep as many things consistent as possible. Avoid giving your pet any leftovers as these could irritate your pet’s digestive system. Many Christmas foods are extremely rich, have bones in and may contain long stringy bits of fat, and these may be choking hazards. Many Christmas gifts and decorations including chocolate are toxic. Store your food out of reach from your pets as you do not want your pet getting to your Christmas dinner before you do!
At Christmas, we eat lots of goodies that are actually toxic to animals. Be sure you identify any toxic substances that you will be consuming that could be a problem to your pet. These are species specific and more information can be obtained from us - give us a ring if in doubt! Particular risks for dogs and cats include chocolate, raisins and dried fruit, artificial sweetener (xylitol, for dogs), salted nuts, macadamia nuts (dogs) and onions/garlic/chives etc.
Keep checking up on any pets who live outside. Ensure they are not too cold - they may need extra bedding and blankets. If they live in a cage, it might be advisable to bring the cage inside. You should check their water is not frozen as this prevents them from being able to drink it. If you notice your dog is shivering when outdoors, you could consider buying them a coat.
When exercising your pet outside, discourage running on slippery surfaces - this could lead to fractures or pulled muscles. There will be many decorations and ornaments placed outside people’s houses, so ensure your pet is under control when outside to minimise the risk of them knocking decorations over, which could damage them or cause fires.
If your pet goes missing while on walk, be sure to find them as soon as possible. Remember, all these extra decorations outside can fall and endanger your pets, who may get tangled in them causing them to be trapped. The sooner they are found, the better the prognosis and safety of the pet. Joining social media groups in this period is a great way to communicate to inform people of lost animals and warn of any hazardous areas and places to avoid.
Ensure you have enough medication to last over Christmas. Many veterinary practices will have reduced hours over the festive season.
If you are getting a new pet for Christmas, ensure you are extremely well prepared as not many shops will be open over the festive period. Make sure a secure, comfortable living place has already been made and you are well stocked with food similar to what the pet has already been eating. Remember, a pet is for life, not just for Christmas!