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Keeping pets calm at Christmas

Christmas can be stressful for pets. The change in routine, visitors, children, loud music and decorations can all worry them. Planning ahead can help minimise stress for pets and ensure they have a happy home at Christmas, too. Here are our top tips for helping your pets have a stress-free Christmas.

Cats and dogs

  • Stick to their routine - try to keep food, exercise, bed and toilet break routines the same, as consistency can help pets feel more secure.
  • Introduce new people carefully - if you have guests coming over, let your dog or cat meet people at their own pace.
  • Give them somewhere cosy and quiet to retreat to, away from all the excitement, where they won't be disturbed by anyone. Leave toys there to help them associate the area with positive experiences.
  • Hiding places - you can also give cats hidey-holes to retreat to in case they feel unsure. Try on top of wardrobes or under furniture - even cardboard boxes can make good hiding places.
  • Don't leave them alone too long - although Christmas is a busy time and there's a lot to do and people to see, be careful about leaving your pet alone for too long.

If you're spending Christmas day with friends or family and your dog is coming with you, take something that smells familiar, like their bed, to help them feel secure. Take some of their favourite toys and chews to help keep them entertained.

Outdoor animals

  • Extra bedding - outdoor animals such as rabbits will need extra bedding in the cold weather. Keep their enclosures clean, as wet bedding will freeze on cold nights and this could make them ill.
  • Drinking water - ensure outdoor pets always have fresh clean water to drink and check at least twice a day that it isn't frozen.

Small furries

  • Somewhere they can rest - make sure nocturnal animals such as hamsters are kept somewhere they aren't going to be disturbed during the day.
  • Keep visitors' pets away from small furries, as they could frighten them!      
  • Peace and quiet - small animals are very sensitive to high-frequency sounds that we can't hear, so keep them away from televisions and stereos. Consider gently and carefully moving their cages into quieter parts of the house if you're having a party.
  • Don't put tinsel around cages and keep fairy lights and electrical cables out of reach to prevent them from nibbling objects that could hurt them.

Pet care over Christmas

  • Keep the number of an emergency vet on hand in case of accidents or if your pet eats something they shouldn't.
  • If your pet is on medication, stock up before the holidays so you don't get caught out.
  • If you're going away over Christmas, be sure to make plans for your pets - whether they're coming with you or not.

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