It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…

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The festive season is a wonderful time for you and your family but can be a strange and unsettling time for your pets and potentially dangerous as well. This is our guide to ensuring that you are your four legged friends have a happy, relaxing and vet-free Christmas!!

Nicely wrapped up under the tree, no one knows what exciting surprise waits inside but the chances are your dog does! Not only is it frustrating that they have destroyed an expensive gift for a loved one but you may end up with an emergency visit to the vets too…

WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT CHRISTMAS?! A PET’S PERSPECTIVE…

  • Stranger danger!
    • Family and friends coming over to visit during this period may unsettle your pets as they are entering their personal space and territory
    • Many pets may not be used to children and will find them very frightening – possibly resulting in bites and scratches
  • Unusual Sounds
    • Christmas crackers, poppers, balloons, loud music, popping corks and fireworks may panic your pets and cause distress
    • Fireworks around the New Year celebrations are a major cause of upset for many pets
    • All loud and strange noises can be unsettling for your pets so try to keep it to a minimum
  • Changes to the Routine
    • You’ll be having time off from work and school meaning your daily routine will be different, so try to keep things as normal as possible, such as walking and feeding times.
    • You may be undertaking some long car journeys with your pet to visit relatives or they may be staying in kennels or catteries over the festive period

FESTIVE DANGERS

  • Christmas Trees
    • Most species only carry a mild toxicity level but may still cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea if consumed
    • Pine needles may get stuck in their paws and throats possibly causing injury and irritation
    • Make sure you vacuum daily and keep the tree well-water which will reduce the amount of fallen pine needles
  • Decorations
    • They look attractive and eye-catching which unfortunately makes them rather tempting to our pets!
    • Chocolate decorations may be a nice treat but not for our dogs!  Chocolate is poisonous to dogs containing Theobromine which is potentially fatal if consumed.
    • Baubles will splinter or smash if broken
    • Tinsel and ribbon is extremely entertaining to pets but it may become a choking or strangling hazard so keep the pets away whilst hanging it up out of reach!  If swallowed it can cause potentially fatal internal strangulation
    • Electric cables for your Christmas light are very tempting to chew but may give them a nasty shock if they do!
    • Tealights and candles are increasingly popular and can be poisonous if eaten and a fire threat if knocked over –  make sure your pet can’t reach them or knock them over!
  • Presents
    • Batteries in many toys and gifts are highly toxic and often chewed or swallowed at this time of year
    • Silica gel – often contained in small sachets found in packaging of moisture sensitive goods can cause severe gastrointestinal problems if eaten
  • Festive Foliage
    • Holly, mistletoe, lilies, ivy and poinsettia are poisonous as are holly leaves and berries.
  • Tasty Food – good tidings, bad toxins!
    • There will be a large array of indulgent treats around the home during this period!
    • Many human foods are a threat to our pets, the main ones to watch out for are:
      • Chocolate – extremely poisonous and results in numerous hospital admissions every year – beware chocolate Christmas tree decorations!  See our chocolate toxicity calculator if you think your dog may have ingested any and if in doubt phone us for advice.
      • Cooked bones  – can splinter or get lodged in your pet’s throat and can cause serious damage by puncturing the intestinal tract or causing blockages
      • Grapes and raisins – small quantities can be very toxic to some dogs and they are a common ingredient in mince pies, Christmas puddings and fruit and nut mixes
      • Fatty foods – such as animal fat and trimmings, sausages, pork pies, cheese, cream, candles (!) etc can cause pancreatitis which is a serious and painful condition causing vomiting and diarrhoea
      • Blue cheese – fungal toxins in blue cheese can cause paralysis and seizures in dogs
      • Macadamia nuts – can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and seizures.  Whole nuts from nut mixes can cause intestinal blockage if swallowed whole.
      • Onions – onions are extremely toxic to dogs and cats causing sudden anaemia and collapse.  Onion is often used as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces.  Also beware members of the onion family such as garlic and leeks which have the same effect.
      • Alcohol – animals have very little tolerance for alcohol and can become intoxicated from mince pies, liqueur chocolates and cakes made with alcohol as well as spilled drinks

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TOP TIPS FOR THE FESTIVE PERIOD

  • Try to keep their routine the same in terms of feeding, exercise etc.  Taking your dog out for a long walk in the morning to physically tire them out will enable them to cope better with stress later in the day
  • Keep any potential edibles + hazards out of reach of anything with four legs!
  • Provide a den/safe space in a favourite place away from your celebrations  – for cats make sure the bed is elevated and in a quiet place
  • Ignore any fearful and distressed behaviour – giving them extra attention at this time will draw attention to the fact that things are different and you are effectively rewarding them for acting abnormally
  • Use calming supplements like Nutracalm, Zylkene, Pet Remedy and Adaptil/Feliway if you are expecting major disruption to their routine and think they are likely to get stressed


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