Small Pets and Christmas Festivities
Christmas is a very exciting time of year for all the family – including small pets! When it comes to preparing for all the Christmas festivities, it’s a good idea to think about the wants and needs of our small pets, as this will allow them to enjoy Christmas just as much as their hoomins!
The Christmas period can sometimes be a little stressful for small animals due to the changes in routine, noise and general hustle and bustle. But don’t fret! We’ve collected together lots of advice on how you can make small changes that can have a big impact on your small pet over the festive season, helping them to feel calm and relaxed, while still included in the joy of Christmas!
Including your pet in the Christmas festivities
You’ll be pleased to hear that there are lots of different ways to involve your pet in your Christmas festivities! Some of our favourite ideas include:
- Writing a Christmas wish list or letter to Santa for your small pet
- Making them a special Christmas stocking
- Giving them their own ‘Christmas dinner’ or treat, but safely – see below
When it comes to festive feasts, Christmas is a great opportunity to offer your small pet their own special dinner of delicious fresh greens. That being said, it’s still really important to check that any greens you offer your pet are safe for them – and you can check this by reading our blog on safe food for small pets here. We would also advise that you don’t give your pet a portion size that is larger than they are used to, and also be careful about introducing food they haven’t had before, as new foods can sometimes lead to an upset stomach.
It’s also worth considering that vegetables that are naturally high in sugar – such as parsnips and carrots – may be included on your pet’s Christmas menu as a treat, but should not be offered to small animals routinely. It’s important to make sure your pet’s dietary sugar content doesn’t get too high, as this will help to protect their digestive and dental health in the long run.
You can also include treats made specifically for small pets in your pet’s stockings, or as part of their Christmas dinner; however, there is often a huge variety of different treats to choose from – so which ones should you choose?
When selecting festive treats for your pet, always remember that natural is best! For example, our Tiny Friends Farm Stickles with Apple and Cranberry are full of festive flavours, and made from delicious grains and real fruit and topped with tasty Timothy hay – which is naturally high in fibre. Made specifically for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and chinchillas, these treats are also great for gnawing – something that small animals need to do to prevent their teeth from becoming misaligned and overgrowing. These Christmas Stickles are also ideal for hand-feeding, building upon the special bond between pet and owner. But, as with all treats, make sure you don’t feed these in excess!
It may be tempting to include your small pet in all the festivities by letting them explore the house during the days leading up to Christmas day but, if you do decide to do this, extra precautions will be necessary to keep your pet safe.
Christmas tree lights are particularly hazardous, as they are extremely tempting for small pets to chew. So always make sure you use cable protectors, and ensure these wires are out of harm’s way before you allow your pet to roam around. Pine needles from the Christmas tree can also be a hazard for small animals, as they can be very spiky, meaning they can become lodged in tiny paws. Similarly, broken ornaments and baubles may also cause injury to your pet’s feet, so always make sure anything sharp on the floor is quickly identified and cleared away. Presents can also be awfully tempting for your pet to gnaw on, so it’s important they are kept away from small pets. If there’s a lot of festive fun going on in the house, it may be safest to let your pet exercise in a small enclosure, so that they can still stretch their legs and explore but can’t chew on anything they shouldn’t!
To avoid these risks, it may seem like a good idea to allow small animals, such as hamsters, to roam the house in a protective ball – however, we wouldn’t recommend this as pets can actually find the experience quite stressful. For example, hamsters have poor eyesight, and the balls can make them feel disorientated and exposed. These small prey animals much prefer being in a space that makes them feel safe and secure – so it’s always worth making sure your small pet has access to a den or hidey-hole, so they always have the option to get away from light and noise if they want to.
Keeping your pet snug as a bug!
If you keep your small pet outdoors, you may wonder about bringing them inside over Christmas time. It’s great if you can keep your furry friend inside all winter, but if this isn’t practical, we wouldn’t recommend bringing pets in for just a few days over Christmas. This is because these little creatures need some time to acclimatise to different temperatures, and they might also be disconcerted by the festive noise and commotion!
If you’re looking to give your pet a bit more protection from the winter weather, but it’s not practical to bring them indoors, you can think about moving them into an outdoor shed or garage if you can, but otherwise ensure that they’re as sheltered as possible. In the wintertime it’s also important to be extra careful about your outdoor pet’s drinking water – as water bottles can easily freeze! The best way to make sure small pets can access fresh water is to check on your pet regularly, changing their water as necessary (once a day as a minimum), and also give them access to a drinking dish as a backup.
For more information about keeping bunnies warm this winter, check out our blog on winter care for rabbits.
So, that’s our summary of how you can help your small pet to get into the Christmas spirit! We’d like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and a hoppy New Year! 🎄🎅🤶