Nine ways to keep your pets safe and happy over Christmas

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It is not just humans who can get excited over Christmas.

With the festive season now getting into full swing, our pets can suddenly find their home filled with intriguing decorations, unfamiliar food and noisy houseguests.

Although we may enjoy this seasonal fun, all this extra hustle and bustle can be stressful and possibly even hazardous for our four-legged friends.

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) has released new guidance on how to keep your pets both safe and entertained over the festive period.

1 Be prepared

Pets can sometimes be overexcited, confused or anxious by the amount of holiday guests visiting their home over Christmas. To minimise stress make a quiet, cosy “den” for your pet in advance – a quiet room is ideal for dogs while cats feel safest when they’re higher up so perhaps their early Christmas present could be a safe “cat tower” from a reputable pet shop.

2 Give them praise

Give them healthy treats or praise when they are relaxed in their den so they learn to view it as a calm place to be and can escape from the comings and goings if things get too busy for them.

3 Keep visitors away

Don’t allow visitors or children to disturb your pets if they have taken themselves away to a quiet area. A pheromone diffuser (calming scents which our pets can smell but we cannot) placed nearby can also help to keep them relaxed.

4 Beware decorations

Vets sadly see many injuries at this time of year due to falls and toppled trees. Decorations such as tinsel, baubles and ribbon can seem like fun toys but can quickly become choking hazards for inquisitive pets. Decorations can also cause blockages in the gut if accidentally swallowed. You can help prevent mishaps by keeping weighty ornaments close to the floor and valuable ornaments out of reach from curious paws.

5 Keep doors closed

You should supervise your pet in rooms containing trees and decorations and keep doors closed when you’re not around so that they don’t wander where they shouldn’t.

6 Feed them correctly

Big Christmas dinners, rich puddings, biscuits and sweets are best kept as treats for ourselves. Rich food and table scraps can cause an upset tummy for our pets and many of the Christmas treats we love (such as chocolate and mince pies to name a few) are actually poisonous to our pets. Stick to your pet’s normal diet over the festive period.

7 Give them a gift

Lots of us like to spoil our pets over the festive season with a nicely wrapped present or two, but sometimes it is the wrapping paper that our pets enjoy playing with rather than their new toys! Pets are often attracted to things that are new and interesting, especially if they make an unusual sound or have an unfamiliar texture. As long as they are safe, and don’t scare the pet, this can provide excellent mental stimulation.

8 Remember your smaller pets

Rats, rabbits and hamsters all have different needs. For example, ferrets enjoy playing with toys that you change frequently and a fabric ferret tunnel can provide all sorts of fun.

9 Don’t discard that packaging

Rabbits need plenty of exercise and if your rabbit lives indoors, they might like to demolish that cardboard box you were thinking of recycling. Mice and rats like to explore mazes so think about how you could create one using safe materials like ink-and glue-free cardboard.