When the season to be merry is upon us and life becomes a blur of shopping, frantic present wrapping and card writing, more shopping and endless trips to the post office, thinking about your pets needs can become lost in the Christmas mix. There are a number of potential hazards to be mindful of during the festive season so read on and feast your eyes on all the tips to ensure you and your pet have a happy, safe and stress free time at Christmas…
Stick To Your Usual Routine - Even though the festive season is upon us it is still important to stick as closely to normal feeding and walking patterns as we can in order that our pets are not put under any undue stress, as a change in routine can often cause pets to become anxious and unsettled.
Feeding - For most of us Christmas means lots of great food and tasty treats but whilst a one off nibble on some leftover's won't do your pet any harm try to resist the temptation to overindulge your pet (after all with pet obesity becoming a serious problem we certainly don't want to make it worse!)
Treats - Did you know, pets can easily choke and experience serious internal damage from snacking on cooked bones, that macadamia nuts can cause poisoning and that caffeine can be fatal..?! Read more on what food is poisonous to animals. Do take a pet suspected of ingesting a harmful item or substance immediately to a veterinarian.
Christmas Decorations - One of the nicest things about December is getting the house ready for Christmas. However, pets, like humans, tend to find the lure of Christmas sparkle irresistible, so we would urge pet owners to be mindful of the following when adding the seasonal touches to your home this Christmas:
If you have a real tree, sweep up the fallen needles regularly as these can easily get stuck in your pet's paws or throat and trim the lower branches to avoid poking accidents. If possible, try to fence off your Christmas tree from your pet and never leave your pet unattended in a room with a Christmas tree. Make sure your Christmas tree is stable and well anchored so that your pet can't pull it over.
Do not hang sweets or chocolates from your tree. These will be too tempting for your pooch to resist and chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and can result in death if even a small quantity is consumed.
No Christmas tree is complete without fairy lights but stray cables and wires may be tempting for your pet to nibble on. To remove the risk of electrocution, please ensure that all cables are out of reach of pets and tape down any loose ones.
Cats in particular love trying to knock baubles from the Christmas tree so try to use unbreakable decorations. Avoid using glass or fragile decorations which can break easily, cutting paws and if ingested, can cause serious gastrointestinal complications.
Tinsel and ribbon should be avoided, or confined to the higher branches of your tree, as these can be attractive to pets and are dangerous to the gastrointestinal tract if your pet swallows them.
Exercise - It's easy to slip out of your normal routine at Christmas with endless parties, visitors and dozing in front of the telly, but if you're one of the UK's millions of dog owners, you'll have no excuse for getting outside (and escaping the Christmas washing up!) and getting some fresh air and exercise for you and your dog. With the extra hustle and bustle with visitors, children, the noise of the television, music and computer games etc, your dog will thank you for a bit of peace and quiet and exercise!
Toys - Once Santa has been our homes often look like a toy store, so when possible try to ensure children's' toys are not left lying around if they have small parts that your pet could tear or chew off and choke on. Don't forget about all the little toys you get in Christmas crackers! What's more when it comes to children and your pet keep a close eye on your pet to make sure they don’t get over excited with all the Christmas fuss!
Visitors - Christmas can be a busy time with visiting friends and relatives so make sure your pet doesn't make an escape in the commotion, and ensure all the excitement of having visitors doesn't distress your pet by simply keeping an eye on them or letting them relax in an unoccupied room.
Festive Foliage - The finishing touches to every home at Christmas often come in the form of plants and flowers; however, certain types of plants are highly toxic and can even cause death. Poinsettia, Holly, Mistletoe, Amaryllis, Lilies and Yew tree are poisonous to pets and must be kept well out of reach. Poinsettia can cause drooling, oral pain, and vomiting and Mistletoe causes vomiting, laboured breathing, shock, and even death from cardiovascular collapse if ingested. Seek immediate veterinary treatment if you think your pet may have ingested parts of any of these plants.
Fireworks - Don't keep pets outdoors when Fireworks are going off and ensure that they have a safe, quiet place inside where they aren't frightened by all of the noise and where they cannot escape through the constantly open door. A quiet, inner room where they can't hear much of the noise from fireworks and loud bangs can help. Putting a radio or television on in the room can also be effective. Try and make sure that the pet isn’t left alone if its distressed.
Do make sure that rabbits and other caged animals are safely secured in a garage or outbuilding, away from the sight and sound of fireworks. As an alternative, the cage can be covered with thick fabric to muffle the sound, making sure there is sufficient ventilation. Horses should be securely stabled or moved to a different location during fireworks displays in the area.
Do ensure that pets always have effective identification. The DSPCA recommends that you have your pet microchipped and ensure that it is wearing a collar with identification in the event that it escapes from the house. Every year we get calls and visits from upset owners with lost pet information as their pets have run off after being scared by fireworks. The DSPCA will Microchip your pet for you or any vet practice can arrange this quickly and easily.
Don't ignore animals in need. Report animal abuse and neglect immediately to An Gardai Siochana or contact the DSPCA at 01-499 4700.
Pet Owners Christmas Guide © Vets Now 2009