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It is time to make merry, but think of your pets too!

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By JAMES KAHONGEH
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The fire of the festive action has caught on all over the country and everyone is an electric Christmas mood. But not quite so for pets, which often get neglected during the holiday season as their owners lose themselves in merrymaking.

This neglect sometimes leads to loneliness and trauma, injury and even death of the animals. Chances are you will be out of town this Christmas to meet family and friends, or on a fun-filled holiday somewhere.

But have you spared a thought about the welfare of your treasured pet while you are away? Where, for instance, do you intend to leave your dog, cat or fish?

Will your animal receive proper care as you have fun? If you are travelling with their pets, what measures have you taken to ensure that the pet is happy, comfortable and safe?

Travelling with your pet can be quite a hustle owing to logistical challenges, especially if you are travelling with your entire household. Did you know though, that you need not put yourself through this hustle?

For as little as Sh400 to Sh700 a day, you can leave your pet at a boarding facility under the care of professionals, says Dr Odhiambo Odago, an associate vet surgeon at The Andys Veterinary Clinic in Nairobi.

“This is not only convenient for you, it will also free the animal from the exhaustion and discomfort of being crammed in a vehicle during a long haul trip to the village,” Dr Odago says.

Boarding facilities clean, feed and offer shelter to pets. They also diagnose and treat animals of any diseases they might have. Medical and accidental emergencies are also addressed.

The director of the Kenya Society for Protection and Care of Animals (KSPCA), Dr Diana Onyango, acknowledges the recent increase in pet boarding facilities and catteries in Kenya, a development triggered by the fast-growing culture of pet-keeping among Kenyans.

Bookings at boarding facilities for pets surge during festive seasons as most families are unable to travel with them. Pet sitters are also hard to find during this time. Charges at these facilities depend on the type and size of the pet.

“If you want preferential treatment for your pet, such as a special diet, brushing of fur and regular grooming, there are provisions for that at an extra fee,” Dr Odago says.

Christmas is not complete without the thrill of firecrackers, but while these excite humans, this noise disturbs and traumatises most types of pets.

“Keep your dog in the house or lock them up in a soundproof kennel so that it does not get frightened and run off. We receive more cases of lost dogs during the holiday season when there are many displays of fireworks,” Dr Onyango says.

What about food? You may be tempted to share your Christmas treats with your pet as you celebrate, but animal experts warn that this is potentially harmful if the animal ingests certain foods that could lead to complications and even death.

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