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Paul O’Grady’s four-legged guide to Christmas and the New Year

As the nation prepares to tuck into turkey and Brussels sprouts, dog-lover Paul O’Grady has teamed up with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to give his top tips to ensure the country’s dogs and cats enjoy the fun-filled festivities.

Paul certainly knows how to plan a four-legged Christmas as he shares his home with six pigs, nine sheep, four owls, two goats, four dogs and an army of chickens. He will also be appearing in Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs at Christmas at 6pm on Christmas Day on ITV1, which is filmed at Battersea.

Paul explains: “Everyone goes a bit crazy at Christmas, chucking up tinsel, knocking back mince pies and having everyone you’ve ever met round for a party. Then it’s straight into New Year, with all the fireworks, and even more food and drink. But while it’s all great fun for us, it can be a bit much for our four-legged friends, so I’ve teamed up with Battersea to share my top tips for ensuring your animals have a brilliant time as well.”

Paul’s tips include:

- Make sure your pets have their own space. Paul says:“When the house is heaving it can be easy for the poor pooch or moggy to feel a bit overwhelmed, so create a comfy den for them away from the action where they can retire if things get too much. Choose an area they are familiar with and give thema tasty treat to make it more enjoyable, but don’t lock them in. If you have excitable pets make sure you tidy up any loose Christmas tree light cables.”

- Ensure they don’t escape. Paul explains: “When everyone arrives remind them to always shut the external doors behind them, and you can even put a sign up, otherwise it’s all too easy for pets to wander outside and take themselves for a festive stroll.”

- Stick to your normal routine. Paul says: “Try not to upset your dog’susual routine as it could make him restless and stressed. If he’s used to three walks a day, or any other regular activity, try not to deviate from it too much.”

- Brief visitors on the pet house rules. Paul adds: “If you have rules about where your pets go and which furniture they can go on make sure all your visitors are aware, so Uncle Jim doesn’t start encouraging the dog onto your brand new sofa and getting him into bad habits.”

- Keep an eye on the calories.Paul says: “We might all be eating like it’s our last day on earth, but there’s no need for the dog or cat to pork out. Tell visitors not to give them titbits so you can monitor how much they get. There’s no harm in a few cheeky morsels, but if everyone gives the dog a sausage it’s not going to be long before you get a pooch with a very upset stomach.”

- Avoid certain foods. Paul explains: “With all the goodies floating around it can be easy for pets to snatch a treat, but make sure your dog avoids chocolate, grapes, raisins and onions as they can be poisonous. Turkey bones can be dangerous for pets, so make sure they can’t get any out of the bin.”

- Don’t let fireworks ruin New Year’s Eve. Paul says: “The flashing lights, sudden loud bangs, and unusual noises can spook even the calmest pet, and it’s not surprising, as they have no idea what’s going on. There’s lots you can do to keep dogs and cats calm, and Battersea have heaps of advice you can follow.” You can read Battersea’s advice at http://www.battersea.org.uk/help_advice/publications/responsible_ownersh...

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