Christmas is a wonderful time to get together with family and friends, to celebrate and enjoy some traditional Christmas fare. For most of us it’s a very busy time and lots of things are happening that don’t normally happen at other times of the year, so we need to consider what impact all this activity has on our pets.
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Here are a few examples of problems we might face, and how we might overcome them:
Problem: The Christmas tree. We set up this strange looking structure in the corner of the living room decorated with lots of shiny, shimmering goodies. If I were a cat or dog I would not be able to resist the temptation to have a play. The problem is that some of these garlands and baubles can actually be dangerous for our pets. Add to that the hazard of Christmas lights and we could have a disaster on our hands.
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Solution: Keep the more hazardous decorations up high out of temptation’s way. Place the tree in a spot where it cannot be easily accessed or tipped over. Surround your tree with a child’s wooden play-pen or portable dog-yard.
Problem: Extra visitors. Even if our pets are used to visitors coming to the house, it can be somewhat overwhelming to them when several arrive at once – especially if we have not seen them for a while. Laughing, chatting excited friends and relatives can intimidate or frighten a shy animal.
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Solution: If your pet is shy of crowds, find a spot somewhere – indoors or outdoors – where he can ‘escape.’ Put his bed and some familiar toys in there for comfort. Better still, book him into a boarding kennel until the festivities are over. If you are confident that your pet will be fine, you should still make sure he is not being over-stimulated by all the attention – or forgotten in all the excitement.
Problem: Lots of tempting foods. Christmas time means lots of delicious foods that we may not serve at other times of the year. Animals may be tempted if food is left out when they are around. Well-meaning visitors may also be inclined to slip them a treat.
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Solution: Keep pets in another room or outside when food is being served. Don’t leave plates of food or bowls of snacks on coffee tables or within reach of your pet. If you are going to feed them the scraps, ensure that they are fresh and safe for your animal. Foods that are left out for a while – especially poultry – can deteriorate quickly and make your pet very sick.
Problem: Alcohol. Some Christmas celebrations include the consumption of alcohol. That’s great, but there can be hazardous consequences for our pets. If they have access to alcohol, either through glasses being left within reach or through spillage, this can have fatal consequences.
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Solution: We need to either closely monitor the handling of alcohol or remove our pet as suggested above. This, in my opinion, is the safer option. That way we can relax and let our hair down a bit.
Christmas can be a fun time for our pets as well. They will probably enjoy being around friends and family. Animals can sense when we are happy and having fun, and they will probably have fun, too. With a few precautions it can be a very special time to share with them.