Battersea Q&A: Preparing for Christmas with your dog

Battersea canine welfare trainer Nathalie Ingham answers a few of those Christmas queries that always come along in time for the festive season…

(Q) We're going away for three days at Christmas - what arrangements should we make for our dog?

(A) You should either arrange for a family member or friend to help, employ a registered and fully insured pet sitter, or find a recommended boarding kennels. Leaving pets alone in a house with someone popping in daily to give food and water is something we strongly advise against, for the animal's welfare and safety. Pets need companionship from their owners and can often develop problems if left home alone.

(Q) If my vet's isn't open over the Christmas period, what should I do in a medical emergency?

(A) All vets are required to offer 24-hour emergency cover. Contact your practice and ask them who covers their out-of-hours care, and how they can be contacted in an emergency.

(Q) Our children are pestering us to get them a puppy for Christmas. Is this a good time to bring home a new dog? After all, we're all off work and there will be plenty of people in the house.

(A) We don't advise giving an animal as a present on any occasion. Christmas is generally a very busy time for families, and consistency in the first few weeks of a puppy being in a new home is crucial to the settling-in period. Disruptions may cause problems at a later stage. The family's routine is often very different over the festive period with people at home more than normal, or out travelling to visit friends or relatives, and this can cause separation anxiety when normal routines are restored.

(Q) Pet owners will spend an average of around £4 on presents for their dog this Christmas - what will you be buying your dog, Oakley?

(A) Oakley will get lots of chews to keep him going throughout the year, a cuddly toy to rip to shreds and de-squeak, and shampoo to help him smell nice after long Christmas walks and plenty of fox poo! Kong goodies are also on the list. But most of all he likes the paper from everyone else's Christmas presents, so as long as I get lots of lovely gifts, he'll be fine!

For more information about Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, call 0843 509 4444, email, visit the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home website, follow them on Twitter or find them on Facebook.