The tree is up, presents are wrapped, food preparations are beginning and the festive season is in the air. Christmas is around the corner. This isn’t just an exciting time for us it also lends itself to many exciting opportunities for our furry friends too. Decorations to play with and wrapping paper to hide under-the choices are endless. For our pets, this can introduce a whole suite of new hazards and strange routines. Here are some tips to ensure your pet remains happy and healthy throughout the holiday period.
Decorate with pets in mind
- Christmas Trees. Within seconds a Christmas tree can topple over and take your cat or dog with it (there are plenty of videos on the internet to prove our point). Make sure your Christmas tree is secured to a stand or weighted appropriately to stop it falling. If you are watering your tree with treated water, be careful not to let your pets drink from it.
- Tinsel and Ribbon. It’s hard to keep a cat away from dangling tinsel or ribbon. However, they can easily lodge in your pet’s stomach or intestines, causing serious damage that often requires surgery. Refrain from tying ribbon or tinsel on your pets as a “collar” or “bow” as they can be choking hazards.
- Christmas Ornaments. We recommend not giving your pet the chance to steal your ornaments by keeping them out of reach or in a secure area if your pet is likely to get interested in them. As a rule of thumb, if an ornament is safe for a small child to handle, it's a safer option for your pet too. Avoid ornaments with pins, hooks or glittery surfaces. If you have low-hanging ornaments that your cat is likely to swat or your dog is likely to chew, make sure they are made from a safe material (or sometimes it's just better to keep them out of reach).
- Power cords and Christmas lights. A playful puppy or a curious kitten can chew right through to the wires of electrical cords within minutes. To avoid your pets getting injured, keep cords tidy and out of sight from your pets. Most hardware stores sell cord tidies to help with this.
- Gifts under the tree. If you're leaving gifts under the tree make sure there isn't any food in them that pets can get to. Too often, our sneaky friends find that box of chocolates and end up visiting us for help!
Keep the feast for the family
While it is nice to include our pets in family occasions, be careful not to feed your dog leftovers from Christmas lunch or dinner. The fat trimmed from meat, both cooked and uncooked, can cause pancreatitis. Cooked bones are also dangerous, as they are very brittle and can easily get stuck in your dog’s windpipe or stomach. Also don't feed your dog chocolate or Christmas pudding as both have ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
Everyone loves to find a stash of chocolate in their stocking on Christmas morning bit make sure your dog doesn't get to it first. Please do not share these with your furry friends, especially dark chocolate. Not only is chocolate toxic it can upset their tummies and leave an unexpected Christmas mess!
Vaccinate your pets
If you are boarding your pet this Christmas or visiting friends with animals, be sure all your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Your local boarding kennel or cattery will require this.
Avoid Christmas lilies, holly and mistletoe
While gorgeous to look at, all lilies (and lily water) are toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and even death. Other Christmas plants like mistletoe and holly can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Christmas lilies are not dangerous to dogs but watch for other plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
Wrap gifts wisely
Dogs and cats are notorious for ripping open presents well before Christmas day. This can be not only frustrating for pet owners, it can be dangerous to pets, exposing them to substances and food that is harmful to them. If your pets are likely to get to the gifts, perhaps leave them out on Christmas Eve instead of days or weeks before.
Maintain your pet’s routine
For our pets, Christmas guests and new schedules can be upheaval. Cats naturally like routine and predictability, so if you are entertaining, create a safe space away from the guests for your cat to go. If your dog is used to being walked each day, try to keep this routine over the festive season. Minimal disruption to your pet’s routine will keep them happy and healthy.
Be Careful with Candles
Even in the throes of summer, it can be fun and Christmassy to light candles. Just be sure you stay vigilant around lit candles to ensure your pet doesn’t burn themselves, or the house!
Keep Your vet’s phone number handy
Our hospital opening hours change over the Christmas period. Be sure to have your both your local clinics phone number and an after-hours emergency number handy.