Christmas can be a very exciting time of year for all the family – pets included – but there are many dangers associated with the festive season that you need to be aware of. Protect your pets with our handy festive safety guide and avoid an unscheduled trip to the vet!
The appearance of a decorated tree in your sitting room – be it real or plastic – is likely to cause a bit of a stir with any resident animals. If you want to keep your pet (and tree) safe, there are a few things to consider:
- Whether you have a real or fake tree, make sure it is secure and cannot be knocked over easily. Cats, in particular, like to climb.
- If possible, locate your tree in a room that you can close off when you’re not at home, or use a stairgate to restrict access when you are unable to supervise.
- If you choose a live pine, spruce or fir, make sure that the water it is in cannot be accessed by your pet. As trees suck up water, they can release toxic sap which an animal could ingest if they drink from it.
- Beware of falling pine needles as they can get stuck in paws, causing discomfort or even infection. Opt for a non-drop tree or make sure you sweep up needles regularly.
- Electrical cords can cause big problems if chewed or if your pet gets tangled up in them. It’s best not to have lights on the lowest branches of your tree and use cable clips to keep wires well out of the way.
- Chocolate is highly toxic for dogs and cats, so think twice about hanging chocolate tree decorations. If you do use them, make sure they are hung on the top branches so they are unreachable.
You may want to reconsider keeping gifts under the tree if you have an inquisitive pet – especially if there is a chance they might contain something deliciously dangerous, like chocolate. Left unattended, a curious pet is likely to try unwrapping your presents early. When you are ready to unwrap, ensure rubbish is collected swiftly. Plastic bags are a suffocation risk for animals, and ribbons and wrapping paper could cause problems if chewed.
Many of the foods that we enjoy at this time of year are toxic to pets, so don’t be tempted to invite them to share your Christmas dinner. Chocolate, mince pies, Christmas pudding, onion gravy and stuffing can all make a dog or cat very ill. Bones from carcasses are also a choking hazard, so you should be vigilant with your leftovers and dispose of any food waste carefully.
Popular Christmas plants, such as poinsettias, mistletoe, cyclamen and holly make beautiful additions to your yuletide decorations but beware – they are toxic to pets. If consumed, they can result in upset stomachs – or worse – so if you want to have them, make sure they are out of reach of your pet.
If you happen to receive a Christmas bouquet as a gift, be careful if it contains lilies. They are especially toxic to cats and just a few bites can cause fatal kidney failure.
Open fires are wonderful for roasting chestnuts but avoid having a charred pet by using a suitable fireguard and not leaving your pet unattended. Candles also add a lovely ambience to festivities, but again, keep them out of reach and never leave unattended.
Keep calm and carry on
Christmas can be a confusing and stressful time for some pets, especially if their normally quiet home is suddenly filled with extra people and noisy revelling. Try to stick to your pet’s usual routine as much as possible and ensure they have a quiet, cosy place to retreat to if the celebrations get too much.
With a bit of preparation and consideration, we wish and hope for a very Merry Christmas for all!