Tis the ‘Silly’ Season…
It’s that time of the year, AGAIN! Ready to sign off for the decade and wondering where 2019 went!
Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration (religious or not) where we spend time with family and friends and hopefully have a bit of time off work to rest and recoup.
Leading up to Christmas can be a super stressful time. Shopping centres are out of control as everyone is looking for those last-minute gifts in the hope to catch a bargain.
On top of all that we are tired, and it can be easy to fall into a pattern of not looking after ourselves as well as we should be. Eating on the run and opting for fast foods can become a familiar habit.
Yep, it’s super easy to get run down during the lead up to Christmas and important things in our life can easily be neglected.
As well as you, I’m talking about your pets. Perhaps they are being left alone longer than usual, or you are not able to take your dog out on their regular walk, or worse, you are feeding kibble or canned pet food because it is quick and convenient.
All of this can have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of your pet.
Here are my top 5 tips to help both you and your pets throughout the silly season:
Tip Number One
Allocate at least 20-30 minutes a day to exercise your dog.
My tip is to do this first thing in the morning and get it out of the way. Ok, you might need to go to bed 20 minutes earlier the previous night (or not), but trust me, it will be all worth it.
Why? Because it will eliminate a whole lot of guilt as well as stress if you need to attend a Christmas party, drinks with friends, or do some Christmas shopping after work. You’ll breathe a bit easier knowing that both you and your beloved dog have already completed the daily exercise regime.
Exercising helps to release endorphins as well as aid in digestion, and a morning walk will give you a boost for the busy day ahead and your dog will be equally grateful too!
As its summer in Australia, it’s important to remember that pavements and roads can get extremely hot and burn your dog’s feet, so a morning walk is a much better option during the warmer months.
If you have an indoor cat, allocate at least 10 minutes to playtime each day. Indoor cats need a little outdoor stimulation and you can easily achieve this with interactive play by using something as simple as a feather on a stick. Playing with your cat will also help you destress as you enjoy that one on one time with your furry companion.
Another easy and affordable way to keep your kitties entertained during the day is something as simple as placing a birdbath in front of a window overlooking a garden, or a balcony in apartment living. Place a bird bath close to the window (on the outside of course) and your cats will chatter to their hearts delight whilst the birds are rehydrating. It’s a win/win for all!
Tip Number Two
Raw feeders, if you run out of BARF and you just don’t have the time to make a new batch.
Mix 80% raw meat (chicken, roo, beef or a mix of all) with 20% organ meat and feed this as a replacement (as well as a daily raw chicken neck for cats and smaller dogs or a kangaroo tail for large dogs). You can feed this for up to 2 weeks.
If you are desperate, on the odd occasion you can substitute a meal with a premade BARF. Although I’m not a fan of pre-packaged BARF (I’m all for human grade ingredients and like to know what my pets are eating) it can be convenient over the busy Christmas period and is a much healthier option than any brand of dried or canned food on the market.
Tip Number Three
Are you going away over the Christmas holidays?
Many families will be enjoying the great outdoors this year with their dog. There is dog friendly accommodation available across Australia and that equates to a guilt free holiday as you don’t need to exclude your best friend. Including your dog on your summer holiday is a great way to spend some extra time with your companion.
Keeping your pet safe on camp sites is a number one priority and one thing to look out for this season is snakes. The Australian drought has brought many snakes closer inland in search of water. To prevent snake bites (for both you and your dog) ensure your dog is on a lead around water and long grassy areas.
If you are travelling to tick prone areas such as the eastern seaboard from North Queensland down to Victoria, talk to your vet about a tick control product suitable for your dog. Continue to search for tick’s everyday (even if you have applied a tick control product) by using your fingertips throughout the coat and feeling for lumps on the surface of the skin.
Also become familiar with the symptoms of a tick paralysis. Your vet will be able to provide you with all the details.
Tip Number Four
Do you have a shy kitty, especially when you have visitors?
Sometimes Christmas can be just as stressful for your pet as it is for you. A house full of guests, loud music and kids running around the place can literally put your pets, especially your sensitive feline, into a place of angst! Stress in cats can affect the urinary tract and cause cystitis (a urinary tract infection), so you want to avoid this at all costs!
If you are hosting Christmas lunch this year I have a few tips to keep the stress at bay.
If your cat is indoors, I suggest having a secluded base camp set up in a quiet room somewhere in the house, such as a bedroom that is “off-limits” to house guests. Deck out this space with loads of comfortable beds, a scratching post and a cardboard box with a comfy blanket for a safe hiding place. Put on the TV or a radio to drown out the sound of your guests. This works an absolute treat, and you can relax knowing that your furry feline is stress free.
The above scenario can also be implemented on New Year’s Eve if you are having a house party or are out for the night.
Tip Number Five
You have finally made it to Christmas day reasonably intact!
You are about to tuck into your delicious Christmas lunch complete with all the trimmings, when you catch the eye of your furry friend, nose in the air, in the hope of scoring some of that delicious food. You think to yourself, it’s Christmas day and one piece of cooked lamb or turkey wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Probably not, especially if your dog is already eating a healthy raw food diet. But is it worth the risk?
Christmas day lunch usually consist of a lot of fatty meat, definitely gravy and lot of roast vegetables cooked in oil or a big greasy barbeque, all extremely difficult for your pet to digest.
Cooked fatty meat changes the natural enzymes making it almost indigestible in the dog’s digestive system. The body is then forced to create the enzymes needed to digest the food naturally. This overworks the pancreas as it is not able to produce enough enzymes to digest the food. The outcome is an attack of acute pancreatitis.
This will cause extreme pain in the abdomen, vomiting and diarrhoea, something that you don’t want on Christmas day. Although some dogs (and cats) are more susceptible to pancreatitis, it just isn’t worth the risk. So please ensure your dog isn’t able to access any fatty meats, cooked bones (as they are health hazards), leftovers on tables as well as kitchen bins.
For your dog to feel included in the lunch time festivities, if they are already eating a raw food diet, feed a fresh raw meaty bone (such as a kangaroo tail). This will keep your dog occupied whilst you enjoy your meal, guilt free!
I hope my top five tips help both you and your furry companion over the silly season… oh the things we do for our pets!
Enjoy and have a happy Christmas.