Christmas is a wonderful time of year and particularly after the 2020 we've had it's a long awaited chance to spend precious time with loved ones. Wrapping paper, tinsel and turkey scraps are all great opportunities for some festive fun – but make sure you are aware of the potential hazards too so you can enjoy a safe and happy Christmas with your pets.
Food, glorious food
We all like to indulge our pets as well as ourselves at Christmas, but many of our festive treats can actually be harmful to pets, so make sure they are kept well out of reach. Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to dogs and other pets, and even turkey bones can become stuck in throats. Grapes - and raisins - are toxic too as well as nuts. If you want to give your pets a treat why not buy something specific for animals from your local pet shop, or indulge them with a little extra turkey meat? Making sure you also keep up their regular feeding routines is important though.
Christmastime is a time for seeing family and friends – and we tend to have busy homes at this time of year. If you are having lots of people over for a social visit, the noise and extra bodies may be overwhelming for your pets. Make sure you provide them with a quiet space they can retreat to if it becomes too much for them.
Loud bangs from things like Christmas crackers and party poppers can also be frightening for pets, so keep cats and dogs out of the way while these are going off.
A real Christmas tree is one of the real delights of the festive season. However, the oils that give that lovely, unmistakably Christmassy smell can be mildly toxic, and the sharp needles can also get stuck in paws or throats if they are ingested. Make sure you clear up needles regularly and keep pets in a different room from the tree if you go out. You'll also need to make sure the water reservoir in the tree stand is not easily accessible to any pets who might fancy a quick drink, as the toxic tree sap can also leak into the water.
Pets are attracted to the lights and sparkle of festive decorations including fairy lights – make sure you keep light cables out of reach so they can’t be chewed or become wrapped around the neck.
Other decorations can also be a choking hazard and baubles made of glass can also be dangerous if chewed so keep an eye on your pets around the tree. It may be a good idea to place a guard around your Christmas tree if you have inquisitive cats or dogs.
Plants like mistletoe, holly and poinsettias can bring a bit of Christmas cheer to your home, but they are also potentially toxic for your pets and can cause an upset stomach or worse, depending on how much has been eaten.
An open fire is lovely at this time of year but make sure pets don't venture too close to have a look. Festive candles can also pose a risk to curious cats and dogs so ensure you put them somewhere out of reach.
General winter safety rules also apply during the festive season. Antifreeze is very tempting for household pets but it's also extremely toxic and is one of the biggest threats to our furry friends at this time of year.
Finally, make sure your cats, dogs and other furry family members have somewhere warm and cosy to sleep when it's cold outside - away from chilly draughts and household hustle and bustle.
What to do if something goes wrong
If your pet is injured or you think they may have ingested something toxic, always contact your vet immediately. Emergency numbers will be available for out of hours incidents so you should always be able to get hold of someone if it is urgent.
Have a Merry Christmas!
However you celebrate the festive season this year we wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas!