1. Endeavor to maintain your pet’s normal routine. Walks, training, mental and physical enrichment, interactive feeding toys, chews, training & bedtime – Try to keep your pet’s daily routine as normal as possible.
  2. If you’re hosting celebrations, remember to exercise pets before your guests arrive. This will help them de-stress and cope better when the festivities begin.
  3. Create a safe, quiet place for your pet to relax away from the hustle and bustle. Even the most social pets need a break sometimes. A yummy chew, stuffed Kong, or LickiMat can help them relax. Here are some Kong stuffing recipes.
  4. Some Christmas food can be toxic for pets. Keep alcohol, chocolate, Christmas pudding, mince pies, Christmas (fruit) cake, grapes, sultanas, raisins, currants, macadamia nuts, onion, sugarless gum (or any product with the artificial sweetener xylitol) out of reach.
  5. Keep Christmas decorations and presents safe.. A dog (especially a young puppy) or cat may think that a Christmas bauble, Christmas lights, or even the tree itself, would make a great toy! Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip over and possibly injure your pet. Hang baubles away from lower branches. Wrapping paper, bows, and even some presents could pose a hazard for your pet. Please keep these items away from inquisitive mouths!
  6. Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Both can cause gastrointestinal upset and other serious health problems. There are many other plants that can be toxic for pets. Read this article from Country Living to learn more.
  7. Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Candles should be out of reach and, if you leave the room, remember to put the candle out! When possible, we also advise you to opt for organic soy, coconut, or beeswax candles, as this will avoid the release of harmful chemicals into the air. Learn more about the risks posed by scented candles, some essential oils, incense, potpourri, and air fresheners.
  8. It’s time to dress up. Whether it’s a new coat to keep warm, , boots to protect from gritted roads, a new harness to enjoy walks together, or perhaps a cute Santa outfit, with hat, glasses, and tinsel to show your holiday spirit –  dressing up your pet may be fun for you, but your pet may feel differently.  Many dogs will happily oblige if items are introduced gradually with lots of positive  reinforcement, but we also see lots of photos where pets are clearly not enjoying the experience.

Please pair the new clothing item with lots of treats to help condition a positive (happy) emotional response. Ask your training professional to show you how! This free program from DogNostics will also set you on the right path: How to Train a Dog to Love a New Harness (The same method can be used to condition a positive emotional response to other new items).

Please also learn to recognize the early signs that a pet is not happy so that you can avoid causing them fear, anxiety, or stress. A Kid’s Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog (suitable for grown-ups too) is an easy-to-read, animated resource guide for pet owners to learn how dogs speak to us using their body language