Christmas is such a fun and busy time for families. Whilst many pet dogs are excited by all the fun and games, some with more anxious personalities can find it all a bit trying. Cats are often also happier when they are away from all the hustle and bustle of the festive season. Here are some things you can do to help keep your pet safe and happy this Christmas.
Extra visitors in the house
If you have a lot of family and friends visiting this Christmas, take a moment to think how your pet might feel about it. Dogs are generally sociable animals. However, if yours isn’t one of them, make sure they have a safe place to retreat to. Cats need to be able to carry on their normal routine as anything else will result in them getting stressed. Rabbits are definitely best kept away from visitors who may be unaware of how sensitive they are and can be easily frightened. So if you are going to be having a busy and sociable Christmas, here are some top tips to make it all run smoothly.
- Plug in Pheromone diffusers for dogs and cats from now. It takes a while for the effect to build up in the environment.
- Ask family members not to bring their pets with them if possible.
- Always provide safe, warm, secure places for your pets to go to when they feel overwhelmed. Make sure food, water and litter trays are available all the time.
- Keep to routines for feeding, and don’t change diets or give your pets leftovers from the party - or a Christmas dinner!
- Give dogs a good walk before your visitors arrive so they will be a little less excitable and boisterous.
- Don’t force your pets to be sociable, especially if they are young as this could have detrimental effects long term.
- Never leave children with any of your pets unsupervised. Children can injure pets and vice versa!
Certain foods and plants can be dangerous
It is wise to stick to your pets normal diet throughout the festive season. Christmas food and treats are often full of rich ingredients which may give your dog or cat an upset tummy. You really don’t want an out of hours visit to the vet at Christmas! The situation with rabbits is even worse. An alteration in the diet, leading to an upset in the digestion process can cause serious and even fatal illness. Some specific foods and plants are toxic if eaten, so here is a short list of the most dangerous around the festive period:
- Chocolate is very toxic to dogs as it contains a substance called theobromine. The darker the chocolate the more poisonous it is. The dark chocolate often used for cooking is particularly high in cocoa solids so watch out for things like homemade chocolate cakes and puddings. Chocolate smells yummy to dogs so keep all baking out of reach of inquisitive noses!
- Lilies are dangerous to cats. So be aware of this if you are a cat owner as they are very popular flowers to be given as presents at Christmas.
- Things such as potato peelings should never be given to rabbits as they can cause catastrophic gut problems. Make sure that visitors are aware of your rabbits diet and that they don’t give them things that they might think are “good“ for rabbits.
All sorts of things are lying around at Christmas and you need to keep a close eye on what your pets are up to! This is especially true if you have young puppies or kittens in your home! Here are a few of the common dangers that you should be aware of.
- Christmas trees
Pets can be a nightmare when it comes to Christmas trees. Kittens and young cats climb them, causing them to fall over. All pets, including house rabbits can potentially electrocute themselves by chewing through the electric light cable. Puppies think the baubles are just fun balls and can break them by biting them, creating sharp splinters of glass or plastic.
Pets are inquisitive and will play with or chew/ swallow batteries. These can cause electrical or chemical burns inside the body. Some contain mercury (especially the little disc ones) which is a poison, and can lead to serious illness.
- Dogs and toys
It is not uncommon that toys left lying around at Christmas are chewed or swallowed by dogs and end up blocking their gut. Spaniels and Labradors are particularly good at this!
- Human medications
Us humans may have good reason over the festive season to take the odd painkiller, but don’t leave them lying around or EVER give them to your cat or dog. Paracetamol is extremely poisonous to cats and ingestion can be fatal. If your pet has consumed any human medication by accident please contact your vet as soon as possible to be given the best advice.