In the average household Christmas can be a busy and stressful time for us all. In all the hustle and bustle of hanging the decorations, buying presents and preparing for large feasts we can forget that our beloved pets may be feeling overwhelmed by the sudden and inexplicable change in their routine.
Dogs and cats (not to mention many other animals) thrive on the ordinary routines which go on during their normal day to day lives. At Christmas it is too easy to forget to walk the dog or feed the cat until long after they feel the effects of a full bladder or an empty stomach. So the first thing you can do for your pet at Christmas time is to try to ensure that your pet's routine is, as far as possible, unchanged. They still need that breakfast or that walk even though the turkey needs basting, the floor is knee deep in festive wrapping paper and Great Aunt Edna is due in five minutes!
Generally many animals will get on well with visitors, but it can be overwhelming for all of us when several members of the family all turn up at the same time and start to bring some festive cheer to your living room. So ensure that your pet has a quiet safe place to retreat to if they feel they need to get away. This should be strictly out of bounds to all visitors, especially children, so that your pet can get away from all the noise and disruption should they feel they need to do so.
Sometimes the Christmas gifts themselves can be a problem for pets; I have seen many dogs which have chewed toys or clothing items brought into the house as gifts, only to get them stuck in their digestive systems and needing surgery to remove them. So ensure that anything chewable given as a gift is placed out of reach of your pet during this busy time. (Some cats also enjoy chewing things, especially woolly jumpers, so keep an eye on your feline friends too.) Incidentally house rabbits may attempt to chew on electric wires so watch those Christmas tree lights!
The Christmas dinner may also cause problems for your pets. Many pets are more sensitive to changes in their diets than we imagine and a day of "treats" from the Christmas menu may well have tham at the vet's with gastroenteritis (stomach upsets) by Boxing day. Also please watch out for those chicken bones which will usually be eaten with relish but are very prone to getting stuck in the intestines or causing severe constipation later. Finally one last word about food- please remember that chocolate is toxic for dogs and you should only give your dogs the special type formulated for them.
I wish you and your pets a happy and safe Christmas!