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Paws and Presents: Navigating the Holiday Season with Your Furry Friends

The festive season is upon us, and as we deck the halls and trim the tree, it's essential to consider our four-legged family members in the holiday festivities. Christmas is a time of joy and togetherness, and with a little extra care and attention, you can ensure that your pets have a happy and safe holiday season. In this guide, we'll explore some key tips for navigating the Christmas season with your beloved furry friends.



Deck the Halls with Pet-Friendly Decorations

The twinkling lights, shiny baubles, and fragrant greenery of Christmas decorations can be irresistible to pets. To avoid any mishaps, opt for pet-friendly ornaments and decorations. Consider using unbreakable, non-toxic ornaments that won't harm your pet if they decide to take a curious nibble. Tinsel and ribbon may look like tempting toys to your cat, but they can pose serious health risks if ingested. Opt for pet-safe alternatives or keep them out of reach.


A Tree-Mendous Challenge

The Christmas tree is a focal point of holiday decor, but for pets, it can be a playground of potential hazards. Make sure your tree is securely anchored to prevent any accidental topples. If you have a cat, consider placing lightweight ornaments and decorations higher up to discourage playful batting.


Skip the traditional tinsel, as it can be a choking hazard, and be cautious with electrical cords for lights. Some pets may find them enticing to chew on, posing a risk of electric shock. Use pet-proof covers or deterrent sprays to keep them away.



The Gift of Safe Toys

When wrapping presents, be mindful of the materials you use. Ribbons, bows, and wrapping paper can be enticing for pets but can also pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues if ingested. Opt for pet-safe gift wrap or keep a close eye on your pets when presents are around.


Be careful not to leave edible gifts (such as boxes of chocolates) under the tree in case your pet mistakes it for their own! 


Instead, consider including a special gift for your furry friend under the tree. Whether it's a new toy, a cosy bed, or a tasty treat, your pet will appreciate being included in the gift-giving festivities. Look for toys that are durable, safe, and suitable for your pet's size and preferences.


Tempting Treats and Tasty Dangers

The holiday season is synonymous with delicious treats and indulgent feasts. While it's tempting to share festive goodies with your pets, it's crucial to be selective about what they consume. Many human foods, including chocolate, raisins, and certain nuts, can be toxic to pets. Leftover Christmas dinner can also pose its own risk. Turkey or chicken bones, even large ones, can lead to splintering, posing a risk of obstruction or perforation in the throat and stomach, which can be life-threatening. Additionally, onions can result in stomach upsets and damage red blood cells, leading to anaemia in dogs. Similarly, avoid offering fatty foods like bacon, ham, and meat trimmings to your pet, as these not only contribute to unnecessary weight gain but can also harm their digestive systems. 


Create a designated pet-friendly zone during mealtime to prevent your furry friends from sneaking a taste of forbidden foods. If you want to treat them, consider preparing homemade pet-friendly treats or purchasing specially formulated treats from pet stores.


A Peaceful Retreat

The hustle and bustle of holiday gatherings can be overwhelming for pets, especially if they're not used to a house full of people. Create a quiet and comfortable space where your pet can retreat when the festivities become too much. Provide familiar bedding, toys, and water to help them feel secure and relaxed.


Let your guests know about your pet's safe haven, and ask them to respect your pet's need for space. This not only ensures your pet's well-being but also reduces the risk of stress-induced behaviours such as excessive barking or hiding.


The Sound of Fireworks and the Fright of Festivities

While fireworks are a New Year's tradition, they can be terrifying for pets. The loud noises and bright lights can cause anxiety and stress for even the most confident animals. Create a calm and secure environment for your pets during fireworks displays by closing curtains, playing soothing music, or providing a comforting den-like space.


If your pet is particularly sensitive to loud noises, consult your vet about anxiety-reducing solutions such as calming pheromones or medications. Additionally, make sure your pet's identification tags and microchip information are up to date in case they become frightened and bolt.


For more tips on coping with fireworks, check out our blog ‘Preparing For Firework Season’ here. 


‘Tis the Season for Vet Visits

Before the holiday rush sets in, schedule a check-up with your vet. Ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and discuss any concerns you may have about the festive season. If you're planning to travel with your pet, make sure they are fit for the journey and enquire about any additional vaccinations or precautions necessary for your destination. This will often need to be undertaken well ahead of time.


As you celebrate the magic of Christmas with your loved ones, including your furry friends in the festivities can make the season even more special. With a thoughtful approach to decorations, treats, and the overall environment, you can create a pet-friendly holiday that is both joyous and safe. By keeping these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to a Christmas season filled with paws, presents, and plenty of happy memories with your pets.





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Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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