It’s everyone’s favourite time of year, with excitement, food and gifts aplenty, but are our pets looking forward to it as much as we are?

From noisy, overcrowded houses filled with relatives and friends, to disturbed routines and irregular feeding times, Christmas can be an upsetting and stressful time for our pets.

Naturally they don’t understand why everything around them is changing; lights and trees are going up, there’s suddenly more visitors in their home, and there’s a hundred and one distractions, from new noises, to tempting smells.

To try and minimise the amount of stress and upheaval your pet is subjected to, here are our gentle reminders for the festive period and New Year celebrations:

  • Keep feeding and exercise times the same. While this can be difficult when everyone’s busy and there are a million other things to remember to do, it is important to stick to your routine so as not to confuse your dog and cause undue stress.
  • Create a quiet, safe space for your pet to retreat to when things get a bit hectic. A bedroom upstairs works well as it is away from the hubbub and is unlikely to be disturbed. Place your pet's bed here, along with their favourite toys, and think about investing in an Adaptil or Feliway plug-in to promote feelings of calm and contentment.
  • Be mindful of toxic foods and keep these well out of reach of your pet. Lots of ingredients found in festive foods like mince pies can be toxic to pets if ingested, so make sure your guests are also made aware of these and know not to leave food lying around where your dog or cat might find it. Apart from foods, other festive favourites like poinsettas and ivy (found in Christmas displays) are poisonous to pets, so do your best to keep these out of harm’s reach. For all the festive foods to avoid, have a read of our related blog.
  • Keep stocked up on your pet’s usual food and any regular medication as you don’t want to run out over the festive period and have to wait for shops to re-open again. Having to give your pet a different food or reduce their medication will cause added anxiety no one needs over Christmas.
  • Make time for your pet every day, even when you feel like time is short. It can be easy to forget to groom or play with them, but they will really appreciate the time you spend with them, no matter how brief. It can also act to reassure them that everything is fine and, despite how busy things seem, they are still a priority.
  • If you have to travel with your dog, plan ahead and make sure you have a comfortable carrier to transport them. Do your best to keep journey times to a minimum and take some comforts from home to relax them. A calmer could also help the journey go more smoothly, such as SettleMe Calming Support for Cats & Dogs.

We hope everyone has a lovely Christmas - dogs, cats and other pets included! :)

Written by: Hannah