The holidays are a time to spend with your family, including four-legged family members, but they are always hectic. Including your pet in the festivities can make the season more special and enjoyable, so our Ambleside Animal Hospital team is helping with tips on how you can celebrate the holidays with your pet. 

#1: Include your pet in a holiday-inspired family portrait

Your family holiday photograph wouldn’t be complete without your pet. Tips to get the best picture include:

  • Choose a festive spot — Find a spot that comfortably fits your family, such as beside the fireplace, next to the Christmas tree, or cuddled on the couch.
  • Select your wardrobe — Many people like wearing matching outfits for a family holiday picture. Ensure your pet is amenable to being dressed up before decking them in an ugly Christmas sweater. If they become stressed when you attempt to dress them, consider a less constraining accessory, such as a bow tie or festive collar. 
  • Decide on your positioning — Pets get bored quickly, so determine everyone’s position before bringing in your pet. Have a family member hold your cat or small-breed dog to prevent them from leaving the scene.
  • Make the session fun — Call attention to the camera with a squeaky toy so your pet looks in the right direction when the picture is taken, and give them liberal treats to ensure they enjoy the session. 

#2: Holiday gift shop for your pet

Everyone likes having a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning, including your pet, so don’t leave them out, and find them a special pet gift, such as:

  • Comfortable pet bed — Every pet enjoys a special resting place, and orthopedic pet beds are a great option, especially for older pets who may suffer with muscle aches and joint pain.
  • Food puzzle toy — Eating kibble from a bowl can bore your pet. Find an exciting food puzzle toy to make mealtimes more fun.
  • Water fountain — Many pets, especially cats, are drawn to moving water, and will be encouraged to drink more water from a water fountain. 
  • Interactive toys — Find a toy you can enjoy with your pet. Durable fetch toys and tug-of-war ropes are great for dogs, while cats tend to enjoy laser pointers and wand-style toys.

#3: Provide a pet friendly holiday feast

Decadent food is integral to any holiday celebration, but several common seasonal ingredients are dangerous for pets. Search for pet-friendly treat recipes so your pet can also enjoy a special feast. Food items to avoid include:

  • Greasy or fatty foods — Foods with a high-fat content can trigger a dangerous, potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. 
  • Bones — Cooked bones are extremely brittle and can easily splinter, injuring your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Chocolate — Chocolate in any form, especially dark chocolate, is toxic to pets, and causes signs that include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased heart and respiratory rate, and seizures.
  • Grapes — Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in pets.
  • Xylitol — If your pet ingests this sugar substitute, they can experience severe hypoglycemia or liver failure.

#4: Take your pet on a holiday adventure

The weather may be a little cool, but your pet still needs exercise. Many pets love frolicking in the snow, and the extra activity is good for them. Let your pet explore and sniff to their heart’s content and be mentally and physically stimulated. If you live in an especially chilly area, consider investing in pet booties to protect their feet from icy conditions. The footwear also helps prevent de-icer crystals, which can be toxic to pets, from accumulating on their paws. 

#5: Let your pet “help” decorate your Christmas tree

Pets are extremely curious creatures, and placing a large tree in your living room is sure to catch your pet’s attention. Ensure you safely secure the Christmas tree in a sturdy tree stand and anchor the tree to the ceiling or an adjacent wall. Include your pet in the tree decorating fun, but ensure the ornaments and decorations are pet friendlybreakable ornaments, small objects that can be swallowed, and tinsel are dangerous to pets. If your pet refuses to leave the decorations alone, consider leaving the last few tree branches bare to prevent temptation. 

#6: Contribute to your local pet shelter

Your pet may have everything they need, but not all pets are so lucky. Many pet rescues and shelters rely on monetary donations and gifts, such as food, litter, beds, and cleaning supplies, to help them provide the necessities for pets in their care. Contact your local pet shelter to see how you can help. 

#7: Watch a holiday movie with your pet

What your pet really wants for the holidays is extra time with you. Cuddle up on the couch with your four-legged friend and watch your favorite holiday movie. Your pet may not care much about the movie plot, but they will enjoy the quality snuggle time. 

Including your pet in your holiday celebrations helps make the season special. However, should your pet have a holiday season mishap, contact our Ambleside Animal Hospital team, so we can ensure they get the care they need.