It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes, but when it comes to our four-legged friends, Christmas can require a little extra planning. Christmas is all about meaningful moments spent making loved ones feel extra special and that includes our furry friends.
Christmas is a great time for celebration but it can also bring with it lots of new experiences and new faces, which can be unsettling for our animals. With two-thirds of pet parents saying they would change their Christmas plans for their fur baby, it’s clear none of us want to forget about our companions when the big day rolls around.
1 in 10 pet parents worry the chaos of Christmas could be too much for their pets. Keep reading for tips.
Working with renowned Clinical Animal Behaviourist, Katie Scott-Dyer, and our own Pet Nutritionist, Mikki Koot, we’ve rounded up the best tips for how to give your pet their best Christmas ever.
“Some pets may be experiencing their first Christmas or may not have had a good experience previously, making them anxious when they see the house filling up with presents, decorations and visitors.” explains Katie.
Katie’s pawsome tips
1. The furry familiar
If you’re going away for Christmas and your cat or dog has got used to having you around due to Covid, put a plan in place so they are cared for and looked after whilst you are gone. Dogs may enjoy going with you to visit people so take familiar smelling items such as their bedding and toys to help them feel at home.
2. Ease them in
Before visitors arrive, ensure your pet’s needs have been met first by giving them time to decompress after a walk. If it won’t scare your pet, have a few extra visitors prior to Christmas so it’s not a sudden change for them when lots of new people arrive at once.
3. Purrfect Present
Pet-induced Christmas guilt is real. According to our study, more than half of pet owners (55%) would feel guilty if they forgot to include their pet in their Christmas plans. Getting them a new toy or treating them to a new meal not only helps include them in the festivities but also works to create positive associations with the new experiences Christmas brings.
4. Give them space
Always keep your eye on little ones around dogs and cats and remind them to leave pets alone if they are sleeping, eating, playing with toys or going to the toilet. Not all pets enjoy being touched or cuddled, and some may feel more vulnerable at Christmas with all the new things. Be mindful that even social pets can get overwhelmed with too much attention. Give your dogs and cats something yummy to lick after the visitors go home to help them relax after all the excitement.
5. Create a cosy retreat
Dogs, and cats in particular, need a quiet core area that is away from other pets if they don’t get along. This core area should be easy for them to get to and have a cosy resting space, their food, water and litter trays. Cats can be sensitive to stress so escape routes and high perches for them to escape the madness is a must.
6. Deck the halls...carefully!
Decorations can be tempting to pets, especially to puppies and kittens, so keep out of their paws to be safe. Chocolate and foods with toxic substances such as raisins and alcohol should be out of their reach at all times, as well as tree water, medications, batteries and tobacco products. Seek veterinary advice immediately if you suspect ingestion!
7. Unwrap the joy
Cats and Dogs love wrapping paper and cardboard boxes and the family will enjoy watching them play with them too. Just make sure to remove sticky tape, plastic packaging, paper, bows, staples and ribbons. For an extra surprise treat, you could pop some treats or toys inside.
Mikki’s merry mealtimes
Dinnertime is a great occasion to give your pets a treat over Christmas and a quarter (25 percent) of us like to give our animals something more indulgent during this time. But pet parents (27 percent) also worry about their furry friend eating food they shouldn’t at Christmas.
“It can be tempting to give your pet food from your table, but even a small amount can be detrimental. Human food is high in fat and salt and some foods can even be toxic.” says Mikki.
Mikki advises: “A great way to treat pets when it comes to meals is variety. Why not try a different flavour of their favourite food? Or treat them to a meal with high-quality ingredients, like fresh-meat which is easy-to-digest, unlike highly processed ingredients like meat meal which risk digestive upsets such as gastroenteritis and messy poos.”
Whether you’re a pet parent, or friends and family, you can make a beloved pet’s Christmas even more special when you give them a festive feast catered especially for them. Whether at Christmas or throughout the year, naturally tasty food that’s packed with fresh meat will make our furry friends feel good. We only use the best ingredients so they’re the perfect choice for every dog and cat.
So, follow our top tips to make your pet’s Christmas as sparkling as yours!