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Our 12 tips of Christmas to keep your pet happy

Christmas is often a busy time of year, maybe you’re out and about visiting people, or you have lots of people coming over to your house. This change and upheaval of routine can actually be quite stressful for pets, so it's important to remember our 12 tips of Christmas.
 
Festive celebrations might be a new experience for your pet, and a few of our Open Paw methods might help keep your pet relaxed over the festive time of year.
 
1. Routine. Try to keep to your usual routine. Keep meal times roughly the same, and ensure your dog gets their usual amount of exercise. If you normally do two walks a day, your dog will expect this, they don’t necessary understand you want to relax after Christmas dinner!
 
2. Travel. If you are travelling with your pet, take their bed and their bedding, the familiar scents will be comforting for them. Give pets the chance to get use to car journeys before making the all-important Christmas trip. You don’t want to find our your pet gets travel sick right at the wrong moment.
 
3. Presents. Leaving presents under the tree might be too tempting for pets to investigate and potentially unwrap. To avoid the temptation, keep them safely away until Christmas morning, when you can supervise your pet with them. If you’re unsure what the gifts are, make sure they are safely away, they might have chocolate or other toxins inside them.
 
 
 
4. Toys. Kongs and other interactive feeders are a fantastic way to keep your pet busy and their mind active whilst visitors come and go. 
 
5. Visitors. If your pet is usually concerned with visitors, than be prepared for increased random visitors over the festive period. Ensure your pet has a safe place they can retreat to where they will not be disturbed. 
 
Having some familiar sounds on might help them feel more relaxed (i.e. the television or the radio). Give your pet chance to get use to the safe place, and ensure they are comfortable left alone there. Let your visitors know that to ensure your pet does not get too worried, it will be best they don’t say hello. 
 
6. Pet Sitters. If you are away for Christmas, but your pet is staying home, allow them time to get use to whoever is looking after them before you leave. If you neighbour is coming in to look after your cat, give your cat chance to meet them a few times beforehand. 
 
Make sure whoever is looking after your pet is fully aware of their usual care routine, and who to contact in case of emergency. Our “Tales of the Unexpected” pack is a great starting point to make sure your pet sitter has all the information they need. 
 
 
7. Trees. A real Christmas tree looks lovely, but the oils in trees can be mildly toxic if consumed. The needles can also get stuck in your pets throat or on their paws. 
 
Regularly sweep up needles, and it will be best if your pet isn’t left unattended with the tree. Cats climbing trees may also be at risk of injury, so help keep them safe. Don’t forget, tree containers with soil might seem like a brand new litter tray to your cat!
 
8. Decorations. Carefully place Christmas decorations that might look like irresistible toys to your pet. 
 
Cats love a Christmas tree to play in, but it might not be something you want to encourage! Tinsel and angel hair can cause serious illness if ingested, as they may cause blockages. Help keep their playful side active by spending time playing with appropriate pet toys with them. 
 
9. Lights. A string of lights might be a very tempting toy. Make sure lights are not dangling, wires are tucked safely away, and lights are turned off when leaving your pet unattended.
 
10. Visiting Dogs. You may have visitors who wish to bring their own dogs to your home. Before the Christmas period, take time for dogs to meet outside the home on multiple occasions before bring the new dog inside. Waiting to see if they get on inside on Christmas day is too late. 
 
Meet up for a calm walk somewhere on neutral ground and give your pets time to get to know each other. If someone is bringing a dog into your house where you have a pet cat, make sure your cat has somewhere safe to go away fro, visiting dogs. The safe place should have access to everything they need (litter tray, food and water) without having to cross paths with the dog. Keeping the visiting dog on a house lead will help reduce chance of the dog and cat unexpectedly meeting each other.
 
11. Visiting Children. Please ensure you supervise children and dogs together at all times. Children can be very excited over Christmas, and to a dog, this can be very unpredictable behaviour and can stress them out. Ensure young visitors are handling your pet with respect, and that your pet has somewhere they can go and not be bothered. 
 
12. Tempting Food. As always, make sure toxic items are out of reach of your pets. Keep an eye on those chocolates, the fruit cake and mince pies. Grapes, raisins and chocolate are all toxic to dogs. Avoid leaving unattended food, you might just find it is too tempting for your pet, and with all those delicious smells, you can’t blame them! 
 
Make sure Father Christmas’s Mince Pie and glass of milk is out of reach of your pets. Not only will it make your pets ill, we are sure Father Christmas won’t appreciate the cat and dogs hair on his favourite treat. If you think your pet has ingested something dangerous, contact your vet immediately.
 
 
You can treat pets who are spending Christmas in rescue. Sponsorship might be the idea gift for family and friends, or you could treat a pet using our Amazon Wish Lists.
 
Do you have any seasonal tips to share? Let us know!

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