Our Top 10 Tips for Avoiding Christmas Hazards with your Pet
If it wasn’t enough with Slade reminding you every other song: IT’S CHRISTMAS! The Christmas season is upon us, and we’re sure you’ve got plenty of plans for your family, friends and beloved pets. However, there are sadly a number of dangers to your pets that you should be aware of. We’ve compiled this list of top 10 tips so you can avoid these Christmas hazards.
1. Toxic Food
Christmas is full of the best food and drink, and we all love to stuff our faces. Unfortunately, a number of favourite Christmas treats are poisonous to our pets. Chocolate is the big one everyone knows is toxic to dogs (and cats!), but so are raisins, grapes and macadamia nuts. Onions, garlic and leeks are toxic to cats and dogs, and so is alcohol. Make sure to keep these ingredients, and any food containing them, away from your pets.
2. Poisonous Plants
As well as harmful food, certain plants seen around Christmas can pose a danger too. Be wary of doggy kisses under the mistletoe, as the plant is toxic; holly leaves and berries too. Flowers like lilies and rhododendrons, which you might receive as a gift, can be very dangerous to cats. Even plant water can contain toxins, so make sure vases are kept up high.
3. Dangerous Decorations
The tree is up and the house looks perfect; but you should be wary, as a number of Christmas decorations can block up dog and cat stomachs, leading to a lot of discomfort and risk of damage. These include tinsel, glass baubles, Christmas lights, holly wreaths (remember real ones are toxic too!), Christmas tree needles and many other decorations. Scavenging pets may find these tasty and have a munch, so be careful where they are placed.
4. Gifts, Gadgets and Crackers
For the last of our tips relating to eating, please be careful where you leave small presents this year. Many contain small parts which can be swallowed by pets and get stuck. Cracker toys are a particular problem, so watch where you flick that plastic frog! Some fancier toys may contain batteries, which are obviously quite dangerous if swallowed.
5. Cold and Rain
It might be cold, but your pets will probably still want to go outside! There isn’t a lot you can do for cats, so make sure they have a nice warm home with a nest to come back to. As for dogs, be careful of very cold snow and ice while out for walks. You might want to consider a dog coat and boots, especially if they are a skinny or short-haired breed. They too may appreciate a warm bed once you come back home. Keeping up these regular walks is important, as our next tip will explain.
6. Pudgy Pets
Okay, okay, so we all get a little out of shape over Christmas. But that doesn’t mean our pets should too. Keeping up their regular exercise routine is very important, especially if you’re sneaking them a little turkey under the table! If they’re finding it too cold to run outside, consider some exercise in the house instead. And though a little is fine, do try and avoid giving too many treats over Christmas, as they can be very unhealthy (and be especially wary of the toxins listed above).
7. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Okay, so edible chestnuts themselves are not poisonous to pets (though their cousins, conkers or horse chestnuts, are toxic) but the fire they may be roasting on is dangerous. Fire is dangerous to all creatures, so be careful not to let your pets get too close to open flames. This includes any Christmas candles as well. Even the air surrounding a fire can get too hot for dogs and cats. Just keep an eye on where your pets are if you do have a fire this year.
8. Firework Fear
Firework season runs right through to the New Year, and we’re sure many pet owners know the fear they cause our furry friends. Sadly, you will have to manage this. Consider making warm nests for your pets, drowning out the noise with familiar sounds like TV, talking to them in a low and comforting voice, and not getting angry if there are any ‘accidents’. In extreme cases, our vets can give you medicine for nervous pets, or recommend therapy.
9. Pets on the Go
Perhaps you have to make a long trip to see family this Christmas. If your pets are coming along, you must be careful when they travel. Always keep them securely fastened, whether in a carrier, or with a special seatbelt. Pack plenty of food and water for the journey, and have spare bedding in case of accidents from nervous travellers. Take breaks too, to give human and animal legs a stretch.
10. Year Round Risks
Finally, we should remind you that although the season is festive, for horrible little parasites, it’s still fair game! Make sure you keep on top of regular flea and worming – when the outside is cold and houses are warm, sometimes fleas can actually be more common indoors! And as always, we will be there for you all throughout the Christmas season, so if you notice anything not quite right with your pets, please let us know as soon as you can.
We hope you, and all your cats, dogs, birds, frogs and other weird and wonderful pets avoid these Christmas hazards, to have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.