Christmas can be a confusing and sometimes dangerous time for your pet.
Suddenly there are changes to their routine; Christmas trees, decorations and presents that they are not allowed to touch; strange people entering your home; and plenty of unusual noises and enticing smells.
Every year I see clients whose Christmas has been ruined by an unexpected injury to their pet, so here are some top tips to help minimise the chance of harm to your pet these holidays.
Christmas tree and decorations
If you have a puppy or kitten in your home, you will need to put your Christmas tree out of harm’s way. If your pet is small enough you might be able fence your tree off with a pet playpen.
Another option is to consider using a smaller tree that you can display high up on a table out of your pet’s reach. Or put your tree in a room where your pet will not be allowed unsupervised.
Kittens and cats are wonderful climbers and will see your Christmas tree as the ultimate challenge! Unfortunately they can also jump onto the tree and knock it over, littering your floor with broken glass and sometimes even causing a house fire.
Your puppy or dog will especially be attracted to any ball-shaped object hanging on your tree, and tinsel and electrical cords pose a particular risk to cats and kittens.
You may require emergency treatment or even surgery for your pet if they:
- Break an ornament in their mouth, as the shards of plastic or glass can cause painful and dangerous internal injuries
- Swallow tinsel, which can obstruct their intestines
- Decide to chew on electrical cords, causing electrocution
Watch out for symptoms such as decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, listlessness and weight loss in your pet and contact a mobile vet immediately if you think your pet has ingested a Christmas decoration.
Your pet does not understand that they have to wait for December 25 to open presents! So to avoid early opening of gifts it really is best to wait until Christmas Eve to place presents under the tree, especially food presents with an enticing smell.
Unfortunately a lot of the foods that we enjoy at Christmas are harmful to our pets. And even giving your pet safe leftovers may trigger tummy upsets, due to change in their diet.
Never feed your pet cooked bones, chocolate, Christmas cake or pudding, grapes or dried fruit, or lollies. Leftover scraps of ham or turkey are okay in small portions.
And be careful about hanging candy canes and chocolate coins on your Christmas tree.
If you want to give your pet some special foods, your local supermarket or pet store has a range of treats specially designed for pets.
Other Christmas hazards
Some other things you might want to think about to prevent injury to your pet this festive season include:
- Fireworks and loud noises. Ensure your pet has somewhere safe and quiet to go when your house is full of noise of on New Year’s Eve when fireworks are exploding
- Hot days. Pets can easily overheat at this time of year. Click here for some tips on keeping your pet cool during summer.
- Christmas lights. Keep electrical cords out of sight and out of reach of puppies, kittens and cats.
- Christmas plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are all poisonous, so should be keep out of your house or out of reach of your pet.
- Gift wrapping. After unwrapping your presents, quickly clean up any gift wrap, plastic packaging, ribbon or bows that could strangle or be swallowed by your pet.
Spend time with your pet
Your pet will cope a lot better with Christmas if you are able to spend some extra quality time with them.
Exercise and feed your pet first before going out or expecting visitors, so your pet is tired, full and calm when they arrive.
And once your festivities start, settle your pet in a quiet, cool spot where they can have some time away from all the noise and activity.
With a little forward planning your pet with safely enjoy the festive season as much as you and your family.
But if you have any concerns about your pet, you can contact your mobile vet.