It’s the most wonderful time of the year... as long as you make sure your pets are safe from deadly decorations, poisonous plants and treacherous treats...
Posted: 05 December 2019
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas... and while every pet parent wants their four-legged family members to feel part of the celebrations, there are plenty of festive perils to watch out for. Check out our comprehensive Yuletide guide to ensure that your furry friends stay healthy and happy this Christmas.
Anything that sparkles, dangles or flashes will be a magnet for many pets, especially puppies and kittens, so make sure decorations are placed well out of reach of inquisitive noses, mouths and paws. Avoid glass baubles at all costs – if they get accidentally smashed, sharp shards can cause nasty injuries.
If you’re decking your halls with fairy lights, make sure they’re hung well out of reach of your animal residents. Not only could your pets get tangled up in them, if they bite through the wire it could result in an electric shock. This is particularly important if you have house bunnies as, in the wild, while burrowing, rabbits chew through roots and they will treat wires in the same way. Don’t be tempted to decorate small pets’ cages with tinsel or strings of sparkling lights – as well as being dangerous to curious nibblers, they’re likely to find flashing bulbs very distressing. And always switch your Christmas lights off at the mains when you’re not at home.
Go steady with spray snow – while it looks seasonally pretty, if your dog, cat or rabbit decides it’s something to be scratched at or licked off, they’ll ingest harmful chemicals.
Keep Blu Tack safely out of reach while you’re putting up cards and trimmings – if eaten, it may cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.
The sudden appearance of mysterious boxes wrapped in paper and bows will attract the attention of playful pets. So, unless you want yours unwrapped and shredded by Santa’s little helper, keep them hidden away.
Once the present-opening frenzy is over on Christmas morning, collect up all the debris. Wrappings and bows can be dangerous if chewed or swallowed and there may be other toxic items lurking – from packets of silica gel often included in the packaging of shoes, handbags and even dog treats, to small parts of children’s toys that can easily be swallowed.
Holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, amaryllis and lilies are all festive floral favourites – but they’re also highly toxic to pets. Avoid or position well away from inquisitive noses.
If you have a real Christmas tree, regularly vacuum up the pine needles as these can puncture your pet's intestines if ingested and painfully prick paws. Don’t let your dog drink the tree water, which is likely to contain chemicals. Nibbling or licking a real Christmas tree won’t do your pets any good either as these trees produce oils that can be toxic, making animals very unwell. If you have a cat who likes to climb, make sure they’re never left unsupervised in the room containing the festive tree. Perhaps consider investing in a cat-safe one.
The first rule of Christmas for every pet parent is to ignore those pleading eyes. Many of the festive food we humans love to chow down on can make our pets very poorly. It’s far better to keep your pets on their usual Burgess diet and play an extra game with them instead. Foods to watch out for include:
Unfamiliar people coming and going may unsettle your pets, so make sure they have access to a quiet room or familiar space, where they can escape from the party and potential over-the-top petting and treat giving from tipsy relatives or overexcited children. Cats and indoor bunnies will appreciate some hidey-holes to retreat to. Try to stick to your daily routine – such as feeding and exercise times – as this will help your pets feel less stressed by all the unusual activity. Check that doors are not left open, inviting pets to slip out unnoticed.
Most animals have incredibly sensitive hearing so the best advice is to avoid crackers and party poppers – and be pet aware when popping the cork on the prosecco. Small animals are particularly sensitive to high frequency sounds that we can't hear – so keep them away from televisions and stereos and consider carefully moving cages to quieter parts of the house if you’re having a party.
And... relax! Forewarned means you’re forearmed against potential festive pet pitfalls. Wishing you and your pets a very merry, healthy Christmas!
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Sources: rspca.org.uk, bluecross.org.uk, dogstrust.org.uk, cats.org.uk