A pet is for life not just for Christmas
There are always big campaigns each Christmas by animal charity, asking people not to give pets as presents, surprise gift or to give in to impulse and purchasing a pet themselves this time of year.
The potential owner needs to be able to spend time making the important decision of adding a new family member, finding that particular pet you connect with is not always straight forward.
Make sure wires and connections are secure
With all the added electric Christmas lights, gadgets and toys at Christmas, a home can be a mass of electricity cables running across the room. Make sure animals cannot get themselves entangled in them, but most importantly make sure a pet cannot get near enough to chew the wires, a particular problem to watch for with puppies and kittens.
Do not give pets alcohol
Alcohol is poisonous to animals, hiding a glass of bubbly away from pets can be an obvious solution for pet owners, but it’s the hidden alcohol in many Christmas treats that could be a potential problem. Christmas puddings and fruit cakes could be soaked in rum or other alcohols and surprisingly cooking yeast from unbaked dough can also cause alcohol poisoning in pets.
Avoid feeding pets toxic food or left overs
Many people know that the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are poisonous to pets, but there are also many Christmas and everyday foods that are toxic to pets, that people are unaware of. Christmas pudding and mince pies are classic Christmas deserts, if after finishing a big meal you can’t eat all the desert, safely bin the left overs or eat them later. Your pet will thank you for it, not only could it contain alcohol, but the currents and raisins that they contain can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and in some cases kidney failure. Other foods to watch out for are onions and garlic, sugar and nuts, fatty and spicy foods and the sweetener Xylitol. Watch for hidden Xylitol, as it can come in the form of granules like sugar or already mixed in to pre-packaged foods.
When it comes to feeding pets, it may be a good idea to buy or make treats. Plus rather than extra treats, a healthier option could be to take a few biscuits from the pets food allocated for that day, as that way they will be eating healthy pet food and not going over they’re allocated food allowance for the day, which helps in keeping your pet healthy and slim.
Protect pets from the cold
Christmas is made magical when it snows, but the weather can have just as much of a dramatic effect on an animal’s health as it would on humans, with hypothermia and death being a very real issue. A cat flap is one option for cats, as they can come and go as they please, and the cat flap can be locked if you want to keep your cat in. If you haven’t got a cat flap, access to an outbuilding or specially made cat shelter would be beneficial to protect your pet from the weather. Many dogs now live a lot nicer lives inside with their owners, but should you need to take you pet for a walk in cold, wet or snowy weather, it may be wise to provide your dog with a warm and or waterproof coat, especially if they are old, ill or have short fur. If the weather is that bad that ponds and lakes are icing over, it may be wise to keep your dog on a lead, as there are many heart-breaking news stories of dogs and or owners succumbing to the elements when the ice breaks.
Smaller pets for example rabbits and guinea pigs would also benefit from being brought inside, or their hutches covered with a waterproof cover and extra bedding given to keep in the warmth. Remember to keep an eye on the water bottle too, as the water inside could easily freeze.
Toxic Christmas plants
The Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettia and Lily can all cause pets, especially cats and dogs diarrhoea and vomiting. The most toxic being the Lily, with both the leaves and the flower being poisonous if ingested.
Dangers of Christmas Decorations
Christmas Decorations bring the house alive, but if you have pets it can be a bit tricky. The last thing you and your pet want is an emergency visit to the vets over Christmas, due to swallowing decorations or injuring themselves on broken baubles or fallen trees. Make sure the tree is securely in place in case your pet decides to jump or pull at it; If possible replace glass baubles with plastic and make sure the baubles on the tree are too big in size to be swallowed by your pet. Replace tinsel with paper chains or bead chains and keep other Christmas decoration out of their reach. If the thought of changing your Christmas tree does not appeal, then it may be wise to restrict your pet from entering the room with the tree, until it is taken down after Christmas.
Safe Pet Stocking
Many of us love to also buy our pets gifts at Christmas. With a large choice of Christmas pet toys in the shops and many items at home that pets like to play with, it can be hard to decide which ones your pets would like best. Unfortunately like children, pets are not always the best at deciding which toys are safe. If we think of cats and toys a ball of wool or ribbon often comes to mind, but these have proven over the years to get caught in the intestines, resulting in surgery. They say it is best to supervise pets whilst they play with toys, even ones purchased from a shop in case anything happens, and to also store the toys away once finished. Great toys for pets are ones that are indestructible, as especially dogs need to be able to chew on them without pieces breaking off and being ingested.
Pets and fire
Open fires and lit candles can look beautiful and be the perfect setting for Christmas. It would be wise to place candles within a vessel and placed out of the reach of animals, and surround the fire with a fire guard. This improves the animals safety around the flames, but it would still be wise to only allowing pets access to the room when someone is present. This way it might stop pets from knocking over the candles and protect them from naked flames.
Your pet may not be used to so many visitors, and the noise and lack of privacy that comes with house guests. All pets need time to themselves, so a quiet room that they can hide in on their own if they choose to, would be really beneficial. It may also be wise to inform guest not to approach your pet, but allow your pet to approach your guests once your pet was comfortable. This way the pet may not feel so overwhelmed. If you expect your pet to suffer with anxiety and you feel you would like to help further, sometime before the guests are expected it may be wise to seek help from your Veterinarian and or animal behaviourist, as they may be able to help.
Disclaimer: These are our personal opinions and do not intend to replace the advice of a professional. If your pet is unwell or you seek advice, contact a professional animal behaviourist and or a Veterinarian.