Christmas songs on the radio, snowflakes on a coffee cup, festive supermarket ads on the TV? Well, it’s certainly starting to look a lot like Christmas, and what a Christmas 2021 will be!
The last 18 months have been nothing like any of us have experienced before. What would we have done without platforms like Zoom and Teams to keep us all connected, especially when introducing new pets to our family and friends, albeit only virtually? During lockdown, our pets played a huge part in keeping some sort of normality and for those people in isolation they provided greatly needed companionship and a reason to stay positive and carry on. Our pooches – young and old – were there for us, encouraging us to go out for walks, get some exercise, and lift our spirits!
There is a real buzz about the run up to the festive season this year, with everyone pulling out all the stops to make it extra special and planning thoughtful gifts for loved ones as well as our pets.
It’s never too early to put up the tree.
Real Christmas trees are beautiful and smell divine, but did you know that if your dog decides to chew on the branches, this can cause an upset tummy or irritation in the mouth? The pine needles can also get stuck in paws or damage eyes, so if you have an inquisitive pet, it might be wise to consider a variety of Christmas tree with low needle-drop, such as the Nordman Fir. Even better, invest in an artificial tree. These are so realistic these days and have the bonus of no needles to vacuum up and last for years!
Whether you have decided on having a real or artificial tree, make sure the decorations are attached securely and high enough not to be within reach of curious pets.
A quick kiss under the mistletoe is all part of the Christmas fun, but make sure it’s kept well out of reach of any pets, as it is poisonous to them. If you suspect your pet has eaten mistletoe, or swallowed something they shouldn’t have, you should call a vet as soon as possible.
Presents made easy for pets.
The run-up to Christmas can be hectic but with a bit of careful planning you can make it a fun and relaxing time. Did you know there are recipes for festive pet friendly biscuits? Why not get busy in the kitchen and turn your hand to baking yummy treats especially created for dogs and cats?
Check these great recipes using staple ingredients found in most cupboards. These can be made a few days in advance and kept in an airtight tin ready for the big day, or wrapped up as gifts for your friends’ fur babies. Remember to attach a label with the ingredients, to avoid allergy issues!
The magical night before Christmas.
Our pets are our family, and we like to include them in everything we do. Everywhere we look there are so many exciting presents to buy for our four-legged friends – they can even join in with the tradition of putting out a stocking for Santa to fill. Or, if you want to help him out, you could buy a ready-made stocking filled with yummy meaty treats instead. Some retailers have taken Christmas one step further, and not only do they have matching PJs for adults and children, but some for fur-babies too! So now the WHOLE family can get in on the action.
Whatever you decide to buy, make sure your pet is comfortable, and shows no signs of distress. Ensure they can behave normally, for example, see, hear, eat, drink, breathe properly, and are able to go to the toilet. Check any outfit purchased thoroughly for elastic bands, or small, hanging or easily chewed-off parts, that could become a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits risk being snagged on objects or twisted by your pet, leading to injury and stress. Make sure to try the outfit on your pet before Christmas, and never leave your pet in an outfit unsupervised. If your pet is not happy wearing their new attire, remove it and give them a big cuddle instead.
Avoid unwanted guests this Christmas.
Christmas is a great time to get together with family and friends, but not all guests are welcome, and by that, we mean fleas! There’s nothing worse than a scratching fluff ball and guests leaving with flea bites on their ankles – not quite the parting gifts they were expecting!
So, to avoid any embarrassing situations be sure to give all cats and dogs in the household their regular flea treatment before the big day. It’s all too easy to forget, with everything else that’s on the Christmas ‘To Do’ list. However, flea treatment should be up there with buying the wrapping paper and Christmas pudding.
Don’t forget some pet pampering time.
Getting ready for the party season is exciting. Don’t forget your furry friend might like a spruce-up for the big day too. Groomers and salons get booked up fast, so book in advance. After all, there’s nothing nicer than cuddling up to your pet and burying your face in freshly washed fur! When you book their appointment, remember to leave a few days between their regular flea treatment date, so the product is not washed off and efficacy reduced.
To share or not to share?
Sharing Christmas festive food is fun but not with your pets. It is well known that chocolate is poisonous to pets and, in some cases, can be fatal. But other festive foods are equally as dangerous. Check out this list of most common foods that are toxic to pets.
Turkey and roast potatoes with garlic cloves may sound delicious, but the garlic is in fact highly toxic to pets as they come from the onion family. The same can be said for a spoonful of Christmas pudding or saving them your last piece of mince pie, both contain dried fruits, such as sultanas and raisins, which are also highly poisonous to pets. So, to avoid upset tummies or much worse, don’t share your Christmas dinner with your pets, instead why not reach for the doggie biscuits you lovingly baked and give them a treat they will really enjoy, and you know is good for them.
If you are worried your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, always call a vet for guidance.
Remembering our loved ones.
Most of us see Christmas as a joyous occasion, but for some, the festive season can be a sad time especially for owners whose loved ones have passed away. Whilst some of us will share our grief with friends and family, others may wish to seek support elsewhere.
There are many support networks available. The Blue Cross offers a pet bereavement service, providing free, confidential support to anyone affected by losing a pet. And the Cats Protection have a phone line called ‘Paws to Listen’. These charities have trained bereavement volunteers who will lend an understanding ear to help to support people through their grieving process. Just to be able to tell someone exactly how you feel, can be such a relief and bring great comfort. It is recognised that losing a pet can be as traumatic as losing a human loved one.
Spreading the love.
As with human charities there are local animal charities that find themselves in need of additional help during the festive period. Here, you can donate pet food and bedding, or arrange to volunteer your time. You could even have your own Christmas Bazaar and donate the proceeds. Every penny counts.
Charities such as The Greyhound Trust are only too pleased to enrol volunteers to walk the dogs. A perfect way to walk off those extra mince pies and show some love and attention to these deserving dogs.
Who knows, it might not be the snow that’s melting? You may find you’re ready to open your heart and fall in love all over again. Maybe even make a New Year’s wish come true for a new four-legged friend? A forever home!