Christmas can be a challenging time for pets; odd decorations, noisy music everywhere, lots of visitors, staying in strange houses or, maybe, even a kennel stay. These stresses can have a negative impact on your pet’s mental and physical health, so why not take some precautions and prepare a festive first aid kit and plan?
Firstly, make sure you think about your pets before making any holiday plans. If you are having visitors, ensure there is a safe place for your pet to ‘get away from it all’ and set this up well in advance. Instruct your guests that if your pet is in his ‘safe space’ they must not disturb him. If you are travelling, take your pet’s ‘safe space’ with you by getting him used to a crate before you go. Covering a crate with a blanket can make a more secure den, and you may want to add calming pheromone spray. For dogs going to kennels or a home boarder try to take a blanket or an old t-shirt with your familiar scent on it. These dogs may also benefit from a pheromone collar to relax them.
Make sure you have enough of your pet’s regular diet to last over the festive period, especially if they are on a special diet such as Breakthrough or have a sensitive stomach. Some kennels routinely use their own foods, but this might not suit your pet so check the arrangements when booking. Your pets will probably get a few food treats over Christmas but try limiting these to no more than 10% of their daily food allowance. Keep a couple of cans or pouches of easily digestible food in the cupboard in case of digestive upsets. Your vet will sell a food for this purpose, but OSCAR Adult Wet Complete Ocean Fish and Rice or Turkey and Sweet Potato would be just as good. I also like to keep a syringe of Diarrhoea Paste at home – just in case! Most contain kaolin and pectin to dry up diarrhoea with both pre and probiotics. See your vet if diarrhoea is watery or contains blood, or if your pet is lethargic. Similar pastes are also available for guinea pigs and rabbits. In case of dog and cat vomiting, stop giving solid food for 24hours but ensure your pet is offered water little and often. Pet electrolyte powders are available which can help them feel better; another good addition to your Christmas emergency first aid kit!
You might want to ask your vet about calming supplements in case the excitement is all too much for your pet; most are both fast acting and non-sedating, and can help with reactions to fireworks, car journeys, or parties. If you know your dog or cat is likely to be very distressed by Christmas events, please visit your vet in plenty of time so that medications can be prescribed to help.
If your pet is on long-term medications, make sure you have enough to last into the New Year and check your vet practice opening hours. If you are away from home, make sure you know where the local daytime and emergency clinics are and keep their numbers somewhere safe.
Finally, check your contact details are up to date with your microchip database, and that the chip is working and easy to find. Consider adding a temporary address tag to your pet’s collar if you are staying away, or if they go to a kennel or home boarder.