It’s no secret that we love to include our pets in the festivities over the Christmas holidays. In fact, 57 per cent of all pet parents admit they include their fur babies in Christmas photos, according to PETstock’s Pet Parent Survey 2022 .
While the holidays are fun for humans, they can present a lot of dangers to our furry family members, especially if you’re decorating the home and hosting parties. With Christmas around the corner, PETstock Vet Dr Kathy Macmillan has compiled her top tips for keeping pets happy and safe.
Supervision – Make sure curious pets are always supervised when near the tree or consider restricting access by setting up your decorations in a room where the door can be closed, or a pet-proof barrier can be created around the tree to prevent access.
Secure the tree – No matter the type of Christmas tree you’ll be displaying, ensure it is stable and secure to avoid a tree-tipping disaster! Curious dogs and cats are notorious for trying to jump onto the tree, which could easily cause it to come crashing down.
Tree water – If you’re decorating a fresh tree, ensure the water base is not easily accessible, as it may contain dangerous chemicals that could harm your pet if consumed.
Although fascinating for our four-legged family members, twinkling lights, shiny baubles and sparkling tinsel can be dangerous. To avoid potential choking hazards or injury, tuck away any cables and place decorations out of reach of curious paws.
If your pet does cause destruction with your Christmas decorations and ingest plastic, glass or tinsel, seek veterinary advice immediately.
If your pet is known to prematurely open presents, refrain from placing gifts that contain food, toxic Christmas flowers and substances that may be harmful to your pet under the tree. Additionally, once Christmas gifts are unwrapped, avoid leaving wrapping paper lying about as it can cause harm if swallowed.
Entertaining guests at Christmas can be fun for humans, but not always for our pets as the presence of unfamiliar guests and increased noise can cause your pets undue stress and anxiety.
- Exercise – if it’s not too hot, take your dog for a long run or trip to the dog park so they feel happy and calm ahead of the celebrations. A well exercised dog is less likely to engage in anxious behaviours such as barking or chewing at the furniture while guests are visiting.
- Create a quiet space – ensure your pet has a quiet space where they can retreat to with plenty of water, their bed, and favourite toys.
- Give your dog a ‘job’ – enrichment toys such as a Kong or food puzzles are a great way to keep anxious pets comforted and entertained. Giving your dog or cat a ‘job’ to do will keep them mentally stimulated, offer a sense of comfort and help to manage their anxiety.
- Calming agents – to keep pets calm during festivities, consider products such as Adaptil Pheromone for dogs or Feliway for cats, and accessories such as a Thundershirt. If your pet is highly anxious, it may be worth discussing options with your veterinarian.
Don’t give in to those pleading puppy eyes! While delicious, some of our favourite festive foods can be extremely toxic to pets.
- Cooked bones – ensure pets aren’t given leftover cooked bones from the Christmas turkey, chicken or ham, as they can splinter into shards and can cause choking and serious internal damage.
- Foods to avoid – include alcohol, chocolate, avocado, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, grapes, gravy, ham, lollies, macadamia nuts, onion, pork and raisins.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten something dangerous, monitor for any changes in their appearance or behaviour. Common reactions may include bad breath, excessive panting, poor breathing, muscle twitching, vomiting and diarrhoea. If your pet demonstrates any of these symptoms, contact your local vet immediately or call 13PETS.