At such a special time of the year, the last thing you need is for one of your beloved pets to be taken ill. Read on for Vetscriptions’ guide on how to keep pets safe at Christmas.
Tip 1: Keep Christmas Food and Snacks Out of Reach
Although you might want to give your pet a Christmas treat, some foods are toxic to your pets. Foods containing nuts, onions, garlic, raisins, sultanas, dates, grapes, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol can cause myriad of serious problems for your pets. While these foods might be perfectly edible and tasty for humans, they can cause liver damage and kidney failure in animals.
Avoid giving your pets any processed foods, such as crisps or biscuits, as these are unhealthy for humans and pets alike. They could also contain the sweetener xylitol, which in even small amounts can be highly toxic. Xylitol can be found in chewing gum, sweets and mints, as well as toothpaste and mouthwash.
It’s not fully understood why some of these foods are toxic to certain animals, so it’s best to keep any foods containing any harmful ingredients out of reach of your beloved pets. That means no mince pies or Christmas pudding for your canine or feline friends if you want to keep them safe at Christmas.
If you want to make your pet a special yet safe Christmas dinner, you could treat your dog or cat to plain, cooked turkey or vegetables such as carrots (which make a perfect crunchy snack for dogs).
If your pet does happen to ingest something you believe contains a potentially poisonous substance, seek professional veterinary advice immediately.
Tip 2: Keep Your Pet’s Diet Consistent
While avoiding toxic foods –– like those mentioned above –– is essential to keeping your pets healthy, you should aim to keep their diet consistent, so they stay safe at Christmas. Any unwelcome surprises over the holiday period might mean an emergency trip to the vets.
Human food, new treats or even table scraps that aren’t part of your pet’s normal diet can cause upset stomachs, vomiting, diarrhoea and even more serious conditions like pancreatitis. Give your pets their normal amount of food, so they don’t put on weight over Christmas and stick to safe, pet-friendly treats. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a new toy for your pet to keep them entertained!
Tip 3: Be Careful with Seasonal Plants
Mistletoe, holly, lilies, potpourri, amaryllis, ivy and poinsettias should be avoided if you have pets. All of these plants can be harmful to various animals. Lily pollen is particularly potent and can cause renal failure in cats, so never keep lilies around the house or in your garden for the safety of your feline friend.
If you have a “real” Christmas tree (an evergreen conifer, such as spruce, pine or fir), the needles that drop from its branches should be hoovered or swept away regularly, at least once a day. These needles can be sharp and stick in the paws of your cat or dog, so take good care of your tree and ensure your pets keep away from it where possible.
Tip 4: Take Precautions with Your Christmas Decorations
Care should also be taken with artificial trees and their decorations. Make sure your tree is secured; otherwise, your pet might knock it over, causing damage to your home or, even worse, injuring your pet.
Cats love to play with tinsel, baubles and other similar decorations, but these could be choking hazards or cause intestinal blockages if small pieces are swallowed. If a glass bauble breaks, it could easily cut your pet, while prickly holly leaves could also cause a great deal of discomfort if stepped on. Keep Christmas decorations out of your pet’s reach, so they aren’t likely to injure themselves.
Ensure electric cables for Christmas lights are well protected or out the way, as these might end up being chewed, especially by house rabbits or other pets. Keep tempting smelling presents out of the way too, as your pet might try and open these presents early.
Tip 5: Stock up on the Necessary Medications
If you have an anxious or nervous pet, make sure you have enough calming medications to keep the peace. There are often fireworks over the festive period, so keep your pets inside and stock up behavioural medications like Feliway or Adaptil to keep them calm. It’s also worth remembering to keep up with your flea medication, as these little critters don’t take a holiday!
Tip 6: Be Mindful of the Weather and Outdoor Conditions
There are some final winter hazards to be aware of outside of the home too. Salt and grit on the roads can be irritating to a dog's feet, so be careful where you take them for a walk if it’s been icy. Wipe their feet when coming back from walks to ensure that no grit is stuck in their paws.
If you need to use anti-freeze for any reason, keep it well away from your pets. The smell and taste can be attractive, especially to cats, but if ingested, it can cause severe kidney failure.
Need to stock up on supplies over the Christmas period? Vetscriptions stock prescription and non-prescription medications to keep your pets safe and well over the holiday season. Our extensive range of products will be sure to give you and your pets a Happy and Healthy Christmas and New Year!