Christmas is a magical time of the year for all the family and that includes our pets.
While they might not understand the true meaning of Christmas, they can get excited by the sniff of sausages in the air.
Not to mention more deliveries at the door – Patch absolutely LOVES the postman and greets him with a waggy tail all year round.
But with office parties, family commitments, the stress of buying pressies and ensuring the dinner goes smoothly, it can be easy to overlook the needs of our pets.
And a study by the UK’s leading pet insurer Petplan has found over a third – 37 per cent – of pet owners fear their pet could feel left out this Christmas.
They quizzed more than 1,000 people about their festive plans and 59 per cent said they would feel guilty if they didn’t include their furry friends in the celebrations.
Fortunately, the majority of pet owners said they are in tune with their feelings with 62 per cent saying they would instinctively know if their pet felt left out.
Nearly one in five, 17 per cent, said they would turn down an invitation to an event with family or friends if their pet wasn’t invited.
Petplan behaviourist, Nick Jones, said:“Pets experience FOMO similarly to humans. The Christmas excitement is contagious, and if pets aren’t involved in the fun, they can feel left out, either withdrawing or becoming overly excited as a result.
“However, it’s easily avoided – some simple but effective ways to get pets involved in your plans could be going on animal-friendly family outings, doing activities at home like baking pet-friendly recipes or getting them an advent calendar full of pet-safe treats.”
Pets are the family we choose and to celebrate this incredible bond, Petplan is giving away daily prizes in their Petplan Pet Advent Calendar.
Search on social media for the #PetplanAdvent campaign where you can win all kinds of goodies from toys and treats to a weekend away in a luxury, dog friendly holiday cottage or by visiting the Petplan website.
Their study revealed the UK’s pets will enjoy a bumper Christmas in 2019 with nine per cent opening an advent calendar every day.
A third of owners, 31 per cent, say they treat their pet, 58 per cent say they are part of the family and 16 per cent don’t want them to feel left out.
When it comes to gifts, 43 per cent of owners will have a treat under the tree for their pet, with 27 per cent buying new bowls, blankets and beds.
Luxury Christmas treats are a popular choice too at 26 per cent and a lucky four pet cent get a doggy holiday.
I think it’s fabulous to see our pets being made such a big part of the celebrations.
And it will come as no surprise that I spend far more time thinking about indulging Patch than any other member of the family!
With this in mind, these are our top tips on making sure your pet feels part of the festivities so you can all have a pawsome Christmas.
Let them help choose the tree
All dogs love a woodland walk and by buying a real tree you can support your local woodland.
We took Patch to sniff out his favourite tree at Chopwell Woods near our home in Newcastle in the North East.
Count down to Christmas with a treat every day
This year Patch has a biscuit advent calendar by the door and when he comes back from his morning walk, he has his treat.
As a young dog – Patch is three – we’re still working on his training. So we get him to sit then give him his tidbit for the day.
While Patch is super slim, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on how much food your pet has in the holidays so they don’t get a belly like Santa’s!
Treat them to festive accessories
We live up in Newcastle in the North East and it’s really cold so having practical items like fleeces and coats to keep warm is important.
Patch wears Daisy’s collar, bandana and lead set with penguins on.
One of the most adorable things I ever saw Daisy in was this Christmas jumper – isn’t it gorgeous?
You can find so many super cute accessories for your pet including collar and lead sets and Christmas jumpers.
Start Christmas Day with a bracing walk or run
Because Christmas can be hectic, I like to take Patch for a run on Christmas morning and I did the same with Daisy too.
Your dog gets a good leg stretch and fresh air. Of course you don’t have to run, a walk is just as good!
After taking part in Mindful Living and our dogs earlier this year, I go phone free and it helps to mentally prepare for the day ahead.
Try leaving your phone at home or in your pocket and focusing on being in the moment, just as our dogs do.
Create a doggy stocking
Rather than have his presents under the tree where he might sniff out and start unwrapping before the big day, we put them in his doggy stocking.
On Christmas morning, myself, Tommy and his daughters unwrap our presents one at a time, and we help Patch do the same.
Daisy would unwrap ALL the presents under the tree so we had to keep them out of her reach until Christmas Day but luckily Patch isn’t quite as cheeky!
Make them a doggy Christmas dinner
On Christmas Day, Patch eats with us and we prepare a doggy bowl with turkey, veggies, potatoes, sausages and some very weak gravy.
It makes him feel part of the family and it’s lovely to see his happy face as he wolfs it down!
He has a Bottom Sniffer doggy beer and Daisy had Pawsecco.
One of our favourite memories was when she hopped on a chair at a friend’s house and ate someone’s Christmas dinner!
Does your dog wait for you to finish eating to see if they might get some of your food before eating their own?
Make a special Christmas dinner for them too.
Cuddle up and enjoy a feel good film
After a day of excess, we love to curl up on the sofa under a blanket and watch a movie and it usually involves dogs.
Our favourite dog film of 2019 was the Secret Life of Pets 2, but other films we watch over and over include Pup Star, Hotel for Dogs and Isle of Dogs.
Patch loves getting under the blanket too and snuggling up and it’s the perfect end to Christmas Day.
Treasure every moment
Finally, enjoy Christmas and treasure the time you have with your pet.
It can be tempting to dash around trying to please everyone but pets are family too and will need some quiet time.
And what better way to say ‘no’ to something you’d rather avoid than ‘Sorry but I’ve got to hang out with my dog.’
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and if you’d like to have the chance to win gifts for your pet, visit www.petplan.co.uk
This post is sponsored by Petplan.
If you like reading about pets at Christmas, you might enjoy 10 gifts for Terrier owners or How to keep your pet safe and healthy this Christmas.