Providing a Safe and Happy Christmas for your Pets
Christmas is a time for family and friends, for catching up, celebrating and often eating far too much. Your fridges are stocked and often your counters are full, which can be a very tempting place for dogs and cats to have a little rummage if they feel they might get an extra morsel of something “humanlike” and tasty. Try to keep everything in cupboards or secure containers so they are out of sensitive noses’ way.
Just remember that although there are many things which are perfectly fine for us humans, for our furry friends they can be poisonous and in some cases lethal. At the top of your Christmas list is likely to be chocolate, mince pies, Christmas pudding, gravy containing onions and alcohol all of which are poisonous for our pets. Bones from carcasses might seem like a good idea BUT they can cause choking because the bones are cooked and can splinter so best to avoid.
If you want to give your dogs and cats a treat, just let them have some skinless and boneless white meat. Of course Christmas is a time for turkey, so that is just perfect. Don’t let them have the leftovers from your plate though as that is likely to be covered in salt and/or gravy.
A more substantial list of items which are poisonous for your pets can be found on the PDSA website – details below.
How often do you hear “my dog was always fed left overs and scraps and he was always ok”. Well, that may have been the case BUT providing your pets with an appropriate diet for their needs should ensure a much longer and healthier life for them. As with human food, a lot of research has gone into pet food which now allows us to provide them with a much healthier lifestyle and why wouldn’t we want to spend as many years with our pets as we can? Their little lives are so much shorter than ours as it is. In a time when we humans are living much longer, let’s allow our pets to do so too.
Aside from festive food you should also consider dangerous plants such as poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe and lilies which can be toxic to both cats and dogs.
Wrapping, Sparkles and Glitter
Don’t forget all the tinsel and wrapping paper which is likely to be particularly tempting for cats to play with but ensure they don’t eat it. In terms of the lovely sparkly Christmas tree, it’s best to supervise your pets when they are around it because the hanging edible decorations, will look like fun but you already know that chocolate, therefore the novelties, will be poisonous. Then there are the baubles, a very tempting play thing which are generally a combination of glass, metal, string or ribbon, all of which could pose a danger.
Christmas can be very busy and chaotic so help your pets adapt by keeping to their normal routine, as much as possible. Provide somewhere cosy and quiet for them where they can hide away and have their own space if that’s what they’d prefer – very likely the case for cats. If they choose to opt for their quiet space, make sure they are left alone and not disturbed by children or other guests. You are likely to have plenty of boxes left over from all the presents and cats just love a box – could make a great hidey hole.
If you are visiting family or friends, try not to leave your pets alone for long periods if that is likely to cause them distress.
If you are taking your dog or cat with you to spend Christmas day at family or friends, take something which smells familiar to them, their bed, a blanket or a basket to help them feel secure. Take some of their favourite toys and chews to help keep them entertained. There will be lots going on in a place that may not be familiar to them, so they need some security and comfort.
The Other Important Bits
Keep the number of an emergency vet in your phone in case of accidents or if, despite all your efforts, your pets eat something they shouldn’t.
If your pet is on medication, stock up before the holidays so you don’t get caught out.
If you’re going away over Christmas, make sure you have planned for your pets’ needs – whether they’re coming with you or not.
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Alan Munro (Dog Walker and Pet Carer)
Alan's first love for animals came at a very early age with two welsh corgis called Patches and Billy, and a ginger Tom cat called Shandy. After being married for a few years and having two young children they decided to add to their family by having a Red Setter who they called Bruno. Bruno gave them thirteen years of happiness. They also had a Gordon Setter and an English Setter during that time but unfortunately the Gordon Setter had an irregular heartbeat and passed away aged five. The English setter lived to a good age. Alan then decided that they should have another Red Setter, so along came Barney who was from a litter of thirteen and a Best in Breed at Crufts .
Today Alan has a Red setter called Rory, two Black Labradors called Jet and Diesel and two cats , Guinness and Peaches. Jet now nine was adopted and Diesel who is two and half should have been a therapy dog for my late disabled daughter. When not walking his dogs, you will find Alan running with Diesel in and around the countryside. They love park runs and have had two first places in little less than a year. Alan regularly runs 30 miles a week.
Alan is Canine First Aid trained and has completed the Covid 19 – Disease Control for Pet Professionals with the Pet Industry Federation.