With the school holidays, Christmas and New Year season coming up many of us will be making plans for our holidays. Whether you are staying at home or travelling, there are many things to take into account to create a safe and happy festive period for your pets.
Many cats and dogs will have already been booked into a boarding facility. If you are looking for a facility for the first time, it is prudent to visit the premises and see where your pet(s) will be staying. Visit any time during opening hours, ask about what foods they feed, exercise for the animals and vaccination requirements. Make sure the kennels and catteries are clean, comfortable, not too noisy and well-staffed. If your pet has special needs such as medications and foods, ask whether the staff can accommodate these needs.
Dogs will need to be up to date with their vaccinations including kennel cough vaccine, each boarding kennel will have a different requirement so check and make sure you enquire ahead before the stay. The same applies for cats, but they will need their flu vaccinations up to date. It is a good idea to give your pet worm and flea treatment prior to their stay also. Most catteries that board rabbits don’t have specific vaccination requirements for rabbits but best to check with the staff anyway. Always provide emergency contact numbers including your vet’s and take your pet’s food, collar, leash, medication, favourite toy, and bed.
If you have several pets that need boarding, it may be more economical to hire a house or pet sitter, there are several of these services around Christchurch and Selwyn. Ask to meet the people who will be visiting your home, make sure you like them and that they are happy to follow all your instructions because all animals are different. Get references, ask around for feedback.
If you are travelling within New Zealand with your pet these holidays, let your vets know ahead of time; your cat or dog may need their vaccinations up to date and depending on your destination, additional parasite control and vaccines may be required. In addition, there may be other health issues to address. Make sure your pet is accustomed to travelling, even short trips if not done often may be very stressful for animals. If you are staying with friends, ensure they have a fenced garden or yard and that their own animals are vaccinated. Some hotels, rental properties or even camp grounds permit pets, look them up online and ask about the fees also. If you are flying, plan ahead, you may need to order a special crate or the airline may ask for other records. Whether you are driving or flying ensure you bring enough of your pet’s regular food and medication for the duration of the trip. If you worry about your pet becoming very stressed during the trip, speak to your vet. There are options to help your pet during the journey.
For the folks staying home there are ways to safe guard your pets from hazards we commonly have around during the festive seasons. Christmas decorations may pose a hazard to pets, decorations may be eaten or glass baubles broken. Pets may eat Christmas tree needles or drink water from the base of the tree which may contain preservatives. Keep decorative lights out of reach and stop your cats from playing with tinsel or long pieces of string or wire. Beware of popular festive plants such as poinsettias, lilies, holly berries and baby’s breath.
Popular foods during the festive season may also be dangerous to your pets, keep chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, sweets and alcohol out of reach. In addition, please refrain yourself from giving human food, these include and not limited to onion, garlic (often in stuffing), left overs and cooked bones (chicken, turkeys, roasts, ham). The above mentioned foods are well known to be dangerous to animals, people seem more likely to offer it to pets when there are guests around or after a few alcoholic beverages. If you notice any signs of illness, including loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, tiredness, or discomfort, contact your vet for advice.
Yolande Howell BVSc(Hons), Selwyn Veterinary Centre