Christmas is a time for joy, socialising, and celebrations, and is no better time to get family and friends together to enjoy the festivities. However, as joyful as it can be, it is also a hectic time full of expenses, travel, and visitors. While pets often act as comforting companions during stressful times, the holiday period can make keeping up with their needs slightly more challenging. The Christmas and New Year period is typically when we invite guests to our homes, spend extended time out socialising, or are away travelling. This can mean our pets spend an unusual amount of time surrounded by unfamiliar people or at home alone. Many pets thrive when surrounded by people, sourcing their energy from pats, cuddles and games of fetch. However, even the most social and friendly pets can become overwhelmed by the amount of disruption to their regular environment. At the end of the day, we all want to enjoy our holidays while keeping our pets happy. So, we have provided some advice to help you care for your pet while enjoying yourself this holiday season.
Provide a Safe Space for your Pet
No one knows your pet quite like you. However, even if your pet is typically lively and social among new groups of people, it is ideal to prepare a safe space to escape if they become overwhelmed. If there is a specific room in your home that your pet is comfortable in, set it up with water, food, toys, and treats to keep them occupied until your home environment is slightly less crowded with unfamiliar faces. If you don’t want to keep them hidden away for the whole party, doing so during more hectic times when people arrive and leave can genuinely make a difference. If you’re worried about your pet being bored or missing out on the festive fun, play some music or leave the TV on in their space to help mask the sound of activity elsewhere and keep them occupied.
Maintain a Regular Feeding Frequency
Pets are creatures of habit. Any domesticated animal becomes used to a way of living and being cared for, and when this is disrupted, they can react unpredictably. Your schedule is likely to change over the busy holiday period where there are many more people around the house, or you are out and about more often. This can make maintaining consistency in your own life rather tricky, let alone your pets however, maintaining consistency with your pet’s mealtime is one thing you can control during this busy period and sufficiently help keep their anxiety at bay. If your pet already has a regular feeding schedule, ensure you stick to it despite the unpredictable nature of the holidays.
Be Cautious with Christmas Leftovers
The spirit of Christmas can drive us to be extra generous, where it can be tempting to share some of our delicious Christmas leftovers with our beloved pets. While pets are undeniably part of the family, their dietary requirements simply do not align with ours as humans. Blindly feeding your pet under the dinner table is not the best option if you are trying not to waste Christmas leftovers. Certain gravy seasonings, nuts, herbs and meats are not suitable in a pet’s diet. Doctors have identified that these foods can be poisonous to pets with the potential to cause tremors, seizures, and damage to the central nervous system. Certainly not something you want your pet to experience, especially during the holiday season. Desserts also raise red flags, as anything containing chocolate, dried fruits, sultanas or raisins can be toxic and cause fatal kidney problems for pets. Rather than feeding pets your Christmas dinner, enjoy it to yourself! Instead, opt for a pet-friendly festive treat that includes them in the Christmas spirit without compromising their safety.
Exercise your Pet Before Guests Arrive
Exercise is proven to stop your pet from becoming bored, drain some of their energy, and encourage them to take a rest. Animals are typically full of energy that needs to go somewhere. Without it, they are likely to act out, especially in the company of unfamiliar guests. Taking your pet for a quick walk or game of fetch at the park can reduce their chance of engaging in problematic behaviours. It will also help de-stress them and encourage them to take a nap once the festivities are underway, allowing you to enjoy yourself and the celebrations.
Travelling with Your Pet
The holidays are also a time for travel. While some people opt to invest in a pet sitter when they head away, many people enjoy travelling with their companion by their side. If you plan on taking your pet on a road trip, there are a few tips and things to consider to make your journey smoother and keep everyone safe. This goes without saying, but never leave your pet alone in the car. Cars can reach exceedingly high temperatures of up to 73 degrees Celsius when parked, which makes leaving pets alone in vehicles a recipe for disaster. Pets require shade, regulated temperatures and access to drinking water at all times and, a hot, idle, parked car certainly does not provide this. When driving in the car with your pet, it is essential to ensure that they are secure and that the vehicle has sufficient ventilation. If your pet is riding first class in the back tray of your ute, make sure they are secure, and that the tray is comfortable. Make sure that they are appropriately restrained and their paws are protected from the heat of the tray’s surface. Also, allow them regular breaks for a stretch and some water.
Keep Decorations Out of Reach
There is nothing quite like pulling the box of nostalgic decorations out of the back of your cupboard and decorating your home for the festive season. However, if you have pets that spend time indoors, these decorations must also be practical. What you don’t want happening is your decorations being ripped from their display and destroyed by your pet, so ensure they remain out of reach. While pretty to look at, decorations are not designed for pets and can be rather dangerous if in the wrong hands (paws). For example, your pet may mistake a bauble for one of their toys or a tennis ball, which may seem rather endearing. However, if a plastic or glass ornament happens to break in their mouth or paws, it could cause serious damage.
Organise a Pet Sitter
One of the most common holiday-season dilemmas is what to do with your pet when you’re going away. While the holidays are typically a time for family and friends, and pets are generally a part of this category, travel plans can change these dynamics. If leaving your pet alone while you travel or keeping them at home during celebrations are not an option, hiring a pet sitter could be the next best idea. However, it can be uncomfortable asking family or friends to care for your pet during the Christmas and New Year period as they are just as likely busy celebrating and travelling as well. Researching, planning and booking a professional pet sitter early can reduce yours and your pet’s stress while you travel. The holiday season is a hectic time of year for pet sitters, as many people likely have the same idea as you, so sort out your arrangements early. The holiday season is officially upon us. So plan and prepare now, and enjoy the festivities knowing that your beloved pet is taken care of throughout this busy period. For more pet care advice, contact the friendly team at Pets in Peace. With years of experience fostering relationships between people and their pets, we are determined to help you balance both your families and your pets’ lives all throughout the year.