Queenslanders have been urged to plan for the care and safety of their animals during the hectic Christmas and holiday period.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said animals needed care 365 days a year.
“Changes in routines can be distressing for some beloved pets, with extra visitors and activities confusing or even frightening,” Mr Furner said.
“Feeding routines can be thrown out because of Christmas gatherings, and families going on holidays can mean significant disruption or even distress for them.”
Mr Furner urged families to heed the RSPCA’s advice for helping four-legged friends cope with the festive season.
- If your dog may be overwhelmed with lots of new people, give them time away from the action and offer a yummy chew or filled enrichment toy;
- Arrange a safe or quiet area where your dog can wind down;
- Assign an adult (not involved in supervising children) to be in charge of your dog if you can’t be; and
- Do not allow children to hug or kiss your dog.
“If your dog licks their lips, shows the whites of their eyes or turns their head away when a child or adult is patting them, intervene immediately,” Mr Beatty said.
“These are just a few signals dogs show when they are stressed.
“Dogs can show their distress at festive gatherings by trying to walk away or hide under furniture, freezing or becoming still with their mouths closed or growling.”
Mr Furner also urged families to plan carefully and communicate with each other when deciding to get a pet.
“Pets can be a wonderful addition to a home, but they should never be given as a surprise,” Mr Furner said.
“Pets are a big commitment. Pets are for life, not just for Christmas.”
Mr Beatty said the RSPCA would be a good first port of call for people planning to add a pet to their household.
“Please don’t buy un- de-sexed pets from pet shops, markets, newspapers or online and make certain the whole family is involved in the choosing of the pet,” Mr Beatty said.
“All animals need permanent, happy homes where their owners have made a decision to commit to that animal for the term of its natural life.”
“In fact if people have decided to add a pet to the family, giving a shelter pet embodies the spirit of Christmas.
“A new family pet could make this Christmas one to remember and bring the family joy for many years to come. Plus of course holidays can be the ideal bonding time.
“We suggest people visit an RSPCA shelter and make a lasting difference, not only for this Christmas but all through the year.”