Once More in to the Breach, aka The New Year is here!

Greetings dear festive season survivors and a Happy New Year to you all! So, hands up if you indulged a little (or lot!) more than you should have done, or were intending to do? Guilty as charged m’lud; although in mitigation can I just say that the food chez Underhill was rather fine :-).

We hardly have time to catch our breath after the indulgence and routine-routing chaos of Christmas than we are flung, ready or not, into the maelstrom of New Year celebrations and all the excess and aftermath that ensues! It’s mind-blowing enough for us to deal with all the added pressure and (hopefully happy) disruption that happens, never mind thinking what goes through the minds of our fur-babies. Actually, I perhaps don’t want to know what the Underhill fur-clan thinks about their madcap humans; maybe they’re plotting to disown me and Mrs U? *Gulp*, we’re sorry kids, we’ll dial it down a notch next year, promise (uncross fingers now :-).

Joking aside, all the disruption to routine and diet isn’t such a great thing – it leads to all sorts of undesirable effects. Most animals are creatures of habit and they find comfort in regular routines; they get used to walkies at certain times of the day, as well as steady feeding times and the all-important “cuddles on the couch” in the evenings.

At Christmas and New Year we fling these schedules to the winds, slotting them in when we are around. Such wanton behaviour often comes back to bite us – hopefully not literally! – in the form of upset tums, more flatulence than is strictly necessary and the odd sporadic spew on the stairs, which just begs for our feet to plop into it.

Walkies can be one of the first casualties of the festive season as we scurry around shopping, baking and cooking for friends, family and guests. Time runs out and before we know it, the clock is striking midnight and Fido (yet again) has not been out for a stroll; little wonder then that their behaviour can take a bit of a nose-dive. With no outlet for their energy, and routine abandoned, it’s a common occurrence for dogs to be nibblier and naughtier than usual. But they’re not being naughty at all really, are they? Nope, they’re just expressing their frustration and releasing pent-up energy in their natural way, and it’s our fault that they’ve reverted to this behaviour.

So what’s the remedy? Keeping to their routine, obviously! Not only does keeping them fit keep their behaviour as we would like it, it can also keep us sane too. Fresh air and the companionship of a beloved pet are well-known “feel good” factors for human health, so even if time is tight, make sure you get out for some pavement pounding – or field frolicking if that’s more your thing. Don’t feel guilty if you have to shorten the walking time a little, things will soon right themselves; normally January 3rd heralds the turning point :-).

If Kitty or Pooch’s weight has become a more serious issue over the Festive period, then why not give the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team a call? We run a weight management course or you can pop in and weigh your pet on our scales yourself; we even offer a variety of specialist foodstuffs designed to reduce the calories your pet eats. Whatever your concern, get in touch and we’ll advise you on the best route for you and your furry family member.

Part of the problem lies in the treats that are bestowed upon furries and non-furries alike over Christmas and New Year by generous family and friends. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of sweet treats; I don’t mind the odd one, but don’t generally gorge on vast amounts of sugar. Something takes over me at Christmas though – and I really do think lack of routine is massively to blame – and

I’m sure it isn’t only me that this happens to. Quality versus quantity is an age-old argument that comes to the forefront at this time of year; personally I am in the camp that says the better the quality of the treat, the less you need to indulge to get that satisfied feeling. I also think that this is the case with our pets’ treats.

Hide chews on the cheaper end of the monetary scale have often been treated with harsh chemicals to give them that bleached colour; not so great for Fido’s tummy. If they have received a large amount of these, please consider throwing them out and if possible replacing them with a natural raw bone or a rubber toy that will last much longer. Chewing alone makes your dog feel happy; he or she doesn’t need a calorie containing treat to feel good. Which brings me to my next point: a lot of the cheaper treats contain high amounts of cereal and this can often cause allergy-type reactions in sensitive animals. Common signs of allergy or intolerance are licking at paws or scratching at ears more than usual, as well as heat and/or swelling on the body. If you have any worries at all, please get in contact and bring your fur-baby in to see us at SLVC – it’s why we’re here 🙂

Kitties love furry, dangly toys and let’s face it, we love to watch them scampering around trying to catch them as we move them back and forth! Cheaper ones may well have stick on eyes that easily come off and get swallowed, or the fur sheds off the toy quickly and gets ingested – neither of which are good for your cat. Again, it comes down to investing in better quality items; if you’re not happy with any of the toys your cat has received from well-meaning folks, just discreetly get rid of them.

Right, I’d best stop jabbering and get my shoes on, it’s time for my walkies according to the looks I’m getting from my four-pawed family members !! Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂