One of the most exciting things for us over the festive period is all the different things happening. We see people we don’t get to see often, socialise more, eat food we only ever have at this time of the year, and even decorate our houses with things that usually live packed away in lofts and cupboards. Whilst this all adds to the excitement of the season for us, it can present a few potential problems for our pets that we should all be aware of.
To make sure we all have a good time, can relax with family (fluffy and otherwise) and get on with enjoying ourselves, we’ve put together a list of our Top Tips to ensure a safe and merry Christmas for all.
1. Keep decorations out of reach – and as non-toxic as you can
- Baubles and tinsel are as attractive to curious pets as they are to us. The temptation to play and pull them down may well be strong, so try to avoid this if you can by moving things out of their reach. Swallowing glass or plastic decorations can cause some nasty problems, and tinsel can be hazardous if they get wrapped up in it while playing.
- Don’t put edible decorations on your tree. The temptation will be too much in the dead of night! The tin foil and chocolate aren’t going to give their intestines the treat they expect!
2. Keep cables for fairy lights out of reach or get a cable guard.
- Loose cables can tempt cats, dogs and rabbits to chew on these new, rubbery items that appear in the house. They could give themselves a nasty shock and unwittingly create a fire risk.
3. Be toxin aware
- Lots of traditional Christmas plants and foliage are poisonous to our pets, so make sure poinsettias, holly, pine, mistletoe, and amaryllis are in rooms they can’t access or are out of reach. Vacuum regularly to get rid of any pine needles – plastic or real!
- Some foods are toxic for our pets despite being delicious to us. This list includes chocolate, mince pies and Christmas pudding (in fact, anything with raisins or grapes in), onions including onion gravy, broccoli, salty foods, avocado, coffee, cauliflower, nutmeg, peppers, garlic and alcohol. Bones from bird carcasses such as turkey and chicken are also dangerous as they pose a choking hazard and can splinter when chewed and get stuck in the digestive system.
- Don’t put presents that include food under the tree. These will be sniffed out and eaten – probably including the ribbon and paper. We can ALL do without the destruction, and certain wrapping paper and ribbons can cause an obstruction in the stomach as well as the intestine.
- Some pets are more intelligent than others when sneaking food while no one is looking. Keep an eye out for any changes in behaviour that might indicate this is the case – changes in their breathing, twitching, vomiting and diarrhoea, for example – and call us if you have any concerns.
4. Make your pets feel safe and stress-free
- If you have visitors coming, make a safe space away from all the commotion for your pet to escape to. A familiar bed and some toys in a quiet room will be an excellent refuge for them if it all gets too much. Make sure guests know which doors and gates need to remain closed for your pet’s safety
- Give your dog a good walk before any excitement, and they’ll be much calmer and more content. Keeping up regular feeding and exercise routines helps with a sense of security too
- Fireworks are often around again over the festive period, so if this is an issue for your pet, make sure they are kept in, have a safe area to hide in, keep the curtains closed and that you have the radio or TV on as a distraction. If the fear extends beyond understandable anxiety, book an appointment to talk to us about how we can help. There are some nutraceuticals such as pheromone plug-ins and food supplements that might help as well as some additional techniques we could talk to you about
5. Don’t forget to have some fun
All of this makes Christmas for your pet sound pretty dull, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as common-sense rules, then you can all have a great family time, including your pet.
We sell a range of toys and chews that make lovely gifts for your pet, and just because they can’t eat the same food as us doesn’t mean they have to miss out. There are lots of safe treats and bones available to keep them healthy and happy. You could organise a treat trail as a treasure hunt and could even have a go at making your own ‘pupcakes’! Google has many ideas for dogs’ baked goods (and a few for cats!). If you make anything and post it on social media, be sure to tag us so we can see!