Christmas can be stressful for pets. The change in routine, visitors, children, 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 the RSPCA’s top tips for helping all pets have a stress-free Christmas:
Cats and dogs
- Try to keep food, exercise, bed and toilet break routines the same as consistency can help pets feel more secure.
- 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.
- For cats, you can also give some 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.
- 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 any period which might cause them distress.
- If you’re spending Christmas day with friends or family and your dog is coming with you, take something which 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 such as rabbits will need extra bedding in the cold weather. Keep their enclosures clean as wet bedding will freeze on cold nights, which could lead to illness.
Ensure outdoor pets always have fresh clean water to drink and check at least twice a day that it isn’t frozen.
- Make sure nocturnal animals such as hamsters are kept somewhere they aren’t going to be disturbed during the day.
- Keep visitor’s animals away from small furries as they could frighten them!
- Small animals are very sensitive to high frequency sounds which we can’t hear so keep them away from televisions and stereos. Consider gently and carefully moving 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 nibbling objects that could cause medical issues.
Advice for all
- Keep a 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.
For more information about how to care for your pets visit www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/seasonal/christmas/calm