Ever since my sister became proud owner of Indie the beagle I’ve been aware of the importance of planning ahead for pets at Christmas.
Lots of people have become pet owners over the last couple of years, so there’s even more reason to get their Christmas care booked early if you know you’re going to be away from home.
My sister is taking no chances and has already booked Indie’s dog sitter for next December!
Help your pet enjoy Christmas too
If you’re going away for Christmas and taking your dog with you, have a think about whether they’ll enjoy it or not. Are they good with loud noises and people they don’t know? How were they last Christmas?
Having a plan for your pets at Christmas can help reduce any stress caused by changes in routine, visitors and loud music – and if your animals are happy and relaxed, you’ll have a more enjoyable Christmas too.
You could arrange for your dog to stay with a friend or professional pet sitter, or take them to a reputable kennel.
Most cats are very attached to their home environment, so keeping your cat at home with a reliable person visiting them at least twice a day is a good option – or you could take them to a well-run cattery.
Make sure you’ve left your vet’s contact information, enough cat litter, food and any medication for the time you’re away.
If you have guests or you’re spending Christmas away from home and your dog is coming with you, give them the choice about whether to interact with everyone or have some time to themselves.
Taking their favourite bed and toys with a familiar smell can help them feel more secure.
Stick to usual feeding times
Keeping to animals’ routines can also really help them feel more relaxed, for example, you can plan ahead to ensure meals and exercise are provided at the usual times.
For cats, providing an extra litter tray away from noise and people and a pheromone diffuser can help them feel much safer.
Even pets who are generally very social might need some peace and quiet over the Christmas holidays.
Dogs might like to have the option of hiding away in a snuggly den – and cats, who often feel safest when high up, might like to retreat to the top of a tall cat tree, secure shelf or cupboard in a quiet room.
Don’t forget the hamster
Christmas can be a worrying time for small furry pets too: to help prevent mice, gerbils and hamsters feeling stressed by noise and additional people you can carefully move their enclosure into a quiet room.
It’s a good idea to check there’s nothing around that they might be tempted to nibble on, such as electrical cables or decorations!
In fact, there are lots of Christmas-related foods that aren’t good for pets: the PDSA has a handy list of them.
Do you have any other tips for making pets part of your Christmas plans and ensuring they’re happy and relaxed? Let me know!