The time surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve is genuinely challenging for owners and their pets. Visitors arrive, the normal daily routine is turned upside down for at least a week and the mood is more turbulent than reflective. People aren’t the only ones exhausted by this time of year. Our pets feel it too. To keep them from feeling afraid or showing signs of stress at the lively festivities, you have to take their habits into consideration.
1. Create quiet zones
During the holidays, create special quiet zones in your apartment or house where your pet can be left undisturbed. It’s best to place aviaries and cages in a room without any Christmas decorations and off-limits to visitors. Dogs and cats should also have a basket available in such a room, where they can retreat as necessary. Although your pets will still pick up on bits and pieces of the holiday hubbub due to their sensitive hearing and keen sense of smell, the familiar cosiness of the quiet room will convey a feeling of security. In addition, try and keep yourself and your pets more or less on the usual schedule during the holidays. Going for a walk, running around outside, playing games and spending quiet moments together are especially important at this time.
2. Beware of what you are feeding your pets
Attempts to sneak your pet treats or even table scraps are taboo. Human food tends to be seasoned too strongly for dogs and cats and can rarely be digested easily. Put leftovers from your Christmas roast out of reach as soon as possible. Bones, especially poultry bones and fish bones, can lead to serious injury, obstructed bowels and constipation in your pets. If you want to surprise them with a tasty treat, you can opt for a new variety of snacks or a special “Christmas menu” for dogs or cats. Whatever you decide, vet Dr. Lioba Schaetz emphasises that it needs to be proper pet food. “Seasoned and heavily sugared substances cannot be easily digested by animals. These kinds of dishes, or even a sudden change in pet food, could cause digestion problems in our pets” It is especially important to avoid culinary experiments with rabbits and guinea pigs, as these animals have extremely sensitive stomachs. They should not receive any other treats in addition to their standard feed of hay and greens.
3. Keep them safe!
Many animals are drawn to it as if by magic: the Christmas tree. The colourful ornaments and glittering tinsel are especially tempting to cats. As a result, many Christmas celebrations have ended at the animal hospital because the cat tried to climb the tree and it fell over as a result, or the dog jiggled an ornament off the tree and he cut himself on the shards. If your pet eats tinsel, it can lead to obstructed bowels, while drinking Christmas tree water can also affect your pet’s health. Last but not least, the electrical cords for the lights can be a great source of danger. If you still wish to have a decorated Christmas tree despite having a pet, you must set up a “no trespassing zone”. As soon as your dog or cat approaches the Christmas tree, clap your hands and shout “No!”. You can hinder your dog further by placing protective grating in front of the tree. Unfortunately this kind of indoor fence won’t work with cats. In theory, you shouldn’t let any of your pets inside the Christmas room without supervision. Remember, the Christmas tree isn’t the only source of danger. Keep decorations, ribbons and wrapping paper away from your pets as well. They could hurt themselves playing with these things or even consume indigestible or poisonous components. During this period you should also relocate small animals and birds to a safe room for any time spent outside the cage or aviary. You may need to forgo this time altogether for one or two days. Burning candles are also dangerous for households with pets. Aside from the fact that your pet could burn himself or knock over a candle, thus causing a fire, many animals are afraid of fire. Even a gentle flame could incite additional stress. Please avoid poinsettias as well. This plant is one of the most dangerous house plants and can lead to life-threatening poisoning.
4. Calm your pet’s anxiety from fireworks
The stressful Christmas celebrations have hardly passed and your pet is already faced with the next challenge: New Year’s Eve Many pets panic as a result of the fireworks and firecrackers set off at midnight. They don’t know what to make of the flashing lights and noises so they feel threatened. Therefore, it would be ideal if your pet got wind of as little of the outside din as possible. Close all the windows well before midnight, draw the curtains and, if you have them, lower the blinds as well. Doing so will limit noise and flashes of light. Experts also advise quietly playing classical music, as this has a soothing effect on animals. The best way to convey a sense of security for your pets is by keeping to their regular everyday routine. It is best, however, to significantly limit the time your cat spends outside and to keep your dog on his (long) leash when you take your walk. Unfortunately, every neighbourhood has a couple of party animals who will begin celebrating early. They could scare dogs and cats roaming about outside, leading them to run off in panic. Bring outdoor cats inside as early as noon and take one last walk with your dog at early evening. In addition, it should go without saying that dog and cat owners should not leave their pets alone on New Year’s Eve. Your presence and calm attitude are especially important in preventing your pet from getting scared by the festivities. Under no circumstances should you comfort or sympathise with your dog or cat while the party rages outside. Suddenly giving your pet so much attention will give him the impression that something terrible really is going on outside. Therefore, its better to act completely natural. Your dog can sit nice and close to you, but do not console him. Just ignore your cats. Only give them attention once the noise has died down completely. As soon as it’s all over, you can ring in the new year by giving them an extra treat.