We're just days away from Christmas, and while every pet parent wants their four-legged family members to feel part of the festivities, there are plenty of festive hazards to watch out for. Make sure your furry friends stay healthy and happy this Christmas with our comprehensive guide.
Pets love anything that sparkles, dangles, or flashes, so make sure you put decorations where they can't get to them, especially puppies and kittens.
Glass baubles should be avoided at all costs since sharp shards can cause nasty injuries if they are accidentally broken.
Whenever you decorate your halls with fairy lights, make sure you hang them well out of reach of your animal residents. It's not just possible for your pets to get tangled up in them; if they bite through the wire, they could get shocked. It's especially important if you have house bunnies because, in the wild, rabbits chew through roots while burrowing, and they'll do the same with wires. Make sure you don't decorate your pets' cages with tinsel or strings of sparkling lights - it's both dangerous for curious nibblers and distressing for them. Keep your Christmas lights off when you're not home and turn them off at the mains.
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While spray snow looks pretty, if your dog, cat, or rabbit decides it's something to scratch at or lick off, dangerous chemicals will be ingested. Don't let your pets eat Blu Tack while you're putting up cards and trimmings - it may cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea if eaten.
Clear and present danger
Playful pets will be attracted to mysterious boxes wrapped in paper and bows. If you don't want yours unwrapped and shredded by Santa's little helper, keep them hidden.
As soon as you're done opening presents on Christmas morning, clean it all up. The packaging of shoes, handbags and even dog treats may contain packets of silica gel, which is harmful if chewed or swallowed, along with small parts of children's toys.
All of these festive floral favorites are toxic to pets, including holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, amaryllis, and lilies. Inquisitive noses should be avoided or positioned well away.
Real Christmas trees contain pine needles that can puncture your pet's intestines if ingested and painfully prick his paws if ingested.
Don't let your dog drink tree water, which may contain chemicals. The oils produced by real Christmas trees can make pets very unwell if they're chewed or licked. Don't leave your cat unsupervised in the room with the festive tree if it likes to climb. Consider getting one that's cat-safe.
Festive food for thought
Every pet parent needs to ignore their pets' pleading eyes at Christmas. Many of the things we humans love to eat over the holidays can make our pets sick. Rather than feeding your pets Burgess, play an extra game with them instead. Here are some foods to watch out for:
- Christmas pudding, mince pies, and Christmas cakes: Raisins and sultanas (as well as grapes) cause serious kidney damage to pets.
- Nutmeg: The spice nutmeg, which is used in eggnog, biscuits, and desserts, can cause tremors, seizures, and damage to the central nervous system in pets.
- Macadamia nuts: In dogs, macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremors, lameness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Chocolate: There is a compound in chocolate called theobromine that is fatal to dogs if they eat it in sufficient amounts.
- Xylitol: Canines are highly toxic to this artificial sweetener, which sneaks into everything from peanut butter to jellies. The dog's pancreas releases a lot of insulin after consuming xylitol in large amounts. In turn, this leads to dangerously low blood sugar levels and symptoms like weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death.
- Pigs in blankets: Pork is fatty, salty, and can cause pancreatitis.
- Onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and chives: These are all Allium plants that are toxic to pets, whether they're cooked or uncooked. There can be diarrhea and vomiting at first, but the main effect is anemia from damaged red blood cells.
- Table scraps (in large amounts): A small amount of cooked, lean meat with the fat removed and a small amount of boiled vegetables, such as carrots, peas, and broccoli, is fine as a treat for your dog, but table scraps should not be fed on a regular basis because they are not nutritionally balanced and can lead to obesity. Cooked turkey bones can splinter and lodge in an animal's esophagus or perforate the intestinal tract, both of which can be fatal. Ensure that turkey carcasses and bones are packaged and safely disposed of in a location where your dogs cannot get them.
- Gravy: It may include significant levels of fat if produced from beef fluids, which can cause pancreatitis.
- Alcohol: When alcohol is used in severe circumstances, there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar, and coma. Keep any unsecured alcohol out of reach of curious pets to prevent them from sneaking a sly tipple.
Unfamiliar people coming and going may be unsettling for your pets, so make sure they have access to a quiet room or familiar location where they can escape the party and possibly over-the-top petting and treat-giving from tipsy relatives or overexcited children.
Cats and indoor rabbits will welcome some hiding places. Stick to your normal routines, such as feeding and exercise times, to assist your pets to cope with all of the odd activities. Check that no doors are left open, allowing pets to escape unnoticed.
Because most animals have extremely keen hearing, it is recommended to avoid crackers and party poppers - and to be pet conscious when popping the cork on the prosecco. Small animals are especially sensitive to high-frequency sounds that we cannot hear, so keep them away from televisions and stereos, and consider carefully transferring cages to quieter areas of the home if you're throwing a party.
And... unwind! Forewarned is forearmed against potential holiday pet dangers. I wish you and your dogs a very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year!