With Our Resident Animal Behaviourist 

Festive Season Pet Safety Tips

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Our dog and cat companions thrive with a predictable routine. Unpredictability makes animals feel worried or insecure. The excitement and festivities that come with end-of-the-year celebrations can be confusing or stressful for them. Try to keep them feeling safe by either settling them into a safe space like a quiet part of the home if entertaining or accommodating playtime or a walk before having guests over, so they feel calmer. Try to keep their usual feeding, sleeping and exercise routines as close to the usual schedule as possible.

With the festive season starting, family gatherings and holidays can add a bit of stress to our companion dogs or cats usual daily routines.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure they feel safe and are kept safe!

Ensure their identification is up-to-date

A collar with up-to-date contact information on the tag is highly recommended. Microchipping your pet and registering the relevant information is also a permanent way to ensure they are safe and in the event they may wander or slip out the gate, they can be reunited quickly.

Check your perimeter

With visiting family or guests to your home, keep an eye on where your pet companion may be during departures or arrivals. If you cannot actively keep an eye on the front gate or door, then managing their environment may be the safest thing to do. Rather keep them in an area of the home where they cannot access an open gate to the street or rush out under feet at an open doorway.

Give them something fun to do

If you’re entertaining guests and busy with festive season activities, ensure your dogs or cats have some enriching activities too. Keeping them stimulated mentally will help promote calm and help them feel safe and secure. Think food dispenser toys to keep them positively occupied or tasty chews for dogs away from the guest area, so they can have some “down-time”.

They don’t need to go to every event

As much as we love including our pet dogs (or cats) in our everyday activities, they do not have to attend every festive market, event or family braai with us. Most are only too pleased to stay at home where they feel safe in familiar surroundings or routine. Pet companions who have big feelings about other dogs, or stranger danger (worried about strangers) especially don’t need to go to the local café or weekend market or accompany you while you do your shopping. Leave them safely at home with some fun mental enrichment.

Fireworks and pet safety

Dogs’ sense of hearing is incredible. They can detect sounds up to double the pitch and four times the distance than people. Dogs can hear sounds up to 45, 000 hertz versus humans who can hear up to 20,000 hertz. They can detect acoustic vibrations that are much quieter too. Cats have a very broad range of hearing. Humans and cats have a similar range of hearing on the low end of the scale, but cats can hear much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64, 000 hertz. So, the ABSOLUTE TERROR they experience from loud bangs is a very real threat to them.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Create a safe, secure place for them inside your home that is away from windows or doors.
  2. Feed them earlier and keep them inside.
  3. Close curtains or blinds and put the TV or a radio on to mask the sounds outside.
  4. Some dogs may need a good walk before the evening to help them feel calmer, ensure this is done in the day and not in the evening when fireworks could be let off.
  5. Provide them with some enrichment as a positive distraction (a stuffed Kong, a yummy chewable treat or a big sinewy chew from your local vet or pet shop).
  6. Be there for them to comfort and keep them reassured and feeling safe.

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