KEEP WATCH: Holidays can stress pets.
KEEP WATCH: Holidays can stress pets. David Nielsen

Stressed by Christmas? Imagine how your pets might feel

CHRISTMAS is a time of fun, festivity and frivolity, but not everyone in the house might be having a great time.

No, we are not talking about your strange cousin from interstate, but the furry members of your family.

Pets can easily be overwhelmed this time of year amid all the noise and activities, and it is important to know how to keep them stress-free and happy in the holiday season.

The RSPCA is offering a number of tips on how to keep the four-legged members of your family happy, starting with keeping a "yummy chew or filled enrichment toy” to give your dog a break from the action if they become overwhelmed.

They also advise not letting children hug or kiss your dog, as they don't like it - and even dogs which tolerate it from owners may not appreciate it from strangers.

Crates and other separate areas for them to wind down are also recommended, as well as assigning an adult to keep an eye on them for signs of stress.

Licking their lips, showing the whites of their eyes or turning their head away when someone goes to pat them are all signs of stress and owners should intervene at once.

Other signs include hiding under furniture, becoming very still or freezing with their mouth closed, or the dog begins growling or the fur raises on their back.

They might also be staring intently at any person who is bothering them.

Owners should also avoid giving their cats and dogs cooked bones, onions, garlic, sauces, chocolate, caffeine, nuts, avocado, raisins, sultanas (including Christmas cake), fatty and preserved meats.

If in doubt, they say, keep your pet on their usual diet.