Christmas is a time of cheer for humans, but for pets it can mean a change in routine, new and potentially dangerous objects around the house, more visitors entering the house, higher noise levels, not to mention all those great smells wafting from the kitchen!
We've put together 12 tips to help you keep your pet safe and healthy this Christmas.
1. Keep decorations up high
Some pets are attracted to sparkly items and will paw them or chew them. Keep an eye on your pet for such behaviour and put any sparkly items well above their reach. Things to beware of are flickering tree lights, tinsel, sparkly ribbon or wrapping paper, and small and sparkly ornaments.
Round ball-like decorations may seem similar to a tennis ball to your dog, however, if broken in the mouth, the shards of plastic or glass can cause lacerations to the tongue and intestines and require surgery. Avoid hanging such ornaments or locate them only towards the top of the tree where your dog can’t reach them.
Beware of what you hang on your tree. Edible treats such as candy canes or chocolate may be attractive to your pet and harmful if consumed.
Cats in particular love string, and tinsel can seem like a very attractive toy. If dogs or cats eat tinsel it can pose an extreme risk to their health, obstructing the intestines and often creating a surgical emergency. Symptoms may include: decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, listlessness and weight loss.
2. "Please sir, I want some more"
Even though we all know our pets will try and eat their weight in food (the cheeky things!), they simply do not need as much food as humans do. Most cooked meats are ok to feed to dogs and cats, but only in small quantities.
You should always remember that pets are not humans and have different digestive systems to us. Make sure any food that you give your pet is in keeping with their standard diet.
3. Cooked bones can cause internal injuries
Do not feed your dog or cat cooked bones. They can splinter easily and damage their throat and intestines.
4. Sauces, marinades and dips are not yummy in their tummy
Keep the meat scraps you plan to feed your pets free of gravy and marinades. While we enjoy pepper, chilli, soy sauce and fats, these items may upset your pets' stomach.
5. "Mum said chocolate isn't good for dogs... but you can have the rest of my milk"
And she was right! The ingestion of chocolate by pets can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and hyperactivity, as well as muscle twitching, increased urination or excessive panting. Chocolate contains a naturally occurring stimulant called theobromine; extreme poisoning can kill your pet.
We would also avoid giving your pets milk, as many are lactose intolerant so milk can lead to upset bellies.
6. Sugar and spice is not so nice
Lollies and even sugar-free sweet products can contain Xylitol which is highly toxic to pets. Just a small amount can cause lethargy, loss of balance, permanent brain damage, liver failure and death.
7. Not even just a little pudding
Many pets are intolerant to dairy foods so Christmas pudding is not safe to feed your pet. Grapes and raisins can also be toxic to pets; so reach for a pet-food treat instead.
8. Don't kiss the mistletoe, kiss UNDER the mistletoe ;)
Christmas Plants and Flowers such as Poinsettias, amaryllis, mistletoe and holly are poisonous to your pets. Make sure they are out of their reach, as consumption could result in illness or death
9. They're pretty, but also pretty scary
Many pets experience distress and anxiety during fireworks displays and as a result try to escape. Events such as Carols by Candlelight and New Years Eve often include a fireworks display, so caution should be taken during this period. For more information visit our animal care fireworks page.
10. Put all the pretties away
With all the wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons and bows around, your pet will probably think all their Christmases have come at once - many shiny fun things for them to play with! But gift wrappings aren't good for your pet's health, so after unwrapping the presents, quickly clean up any plastic, ribbons and bows that could strangle or be swallowed by your pet.
11. Lets get physical
If you are going out or expecting visitors, exercise your pet before they arrive so that it is restful and happy to nap once the festivities start
12. A game of hide and seek
Let your pet have a quiet spot to itself if you have visitors or the house gets noisy; pets need a rest and some quiet time too or they can become stressed and anxious.