Christmas Pet Safety Tips

in Animals & Pets

Christmas is a wonderful time of year – but not always for your pets! Here are some tips for keeping your pets out of danger.

  • Food to avoid giving your pet at Christmas
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Chocolate (can be toxic to pets especially dark chocolate and cocoa powder)
  • Coffee
  • Mouldy or spoiled foods
  • Salt
  • Chicken or Turkey bones (they can splinter)
  • Raisins and grapes have on rare occasions caused acute irreversible renal failure in dogs, so be aware of this. 

Avoid giving your pet any of your leftovers as this can cause diarrhoea. This is particularly the case with dogs that are used to a dried diet, owners often feel that their pet has to partake in the Christmas binge and this can result in acute gastroenteritis.

 Also keep your pet away from cooked bones: they can splinter or get lodged in your pet’s throat or can cause serious damage by puncturing the intestinal tract.

Pet hazards around the Christmas tree

  • Fallen Christmas tree needles are very sharp and can easily get stuck in your pet’s paws or throat. Sweep tree needles up regularly.
  • Do not hang your chocolates from your Christmas tree: they can be toxic and your pet will be tempted if he can see and smell them.
  • Cover up electric cords and flashing tree lights so your pet can’t chew them and electrocute himself.
  • Try using fairy lights that don’t flash as some pets when up close can get very scared by these.
  • Christmas tree decorations can cause a nasty accident or be fatal to your pet. Cats, and young pets especially, will show a great interest in decorations hanging from your tree. Try to use unbreakable decorations and nothing too small. Avoid tinsel or ribbons as these are dangerous to the gastrointestinal tract if your pet swallows them. I have on numerous occasions had to perform life saving surgery on cats who have swallowed long strands of tinsel. 
  • Be very careful with any balls purchased for your dog to play with, if they are large enough to swallow but too small to pass through the intestines they will cause an obstruction.
  • Make sure your tree is well anchored so your pet can’t pull it over.
  • Cats have a fetish for eating tinsel, on many an occasion I have to operate on cats as a result of this. On one occasion the client waited too long before presenting the cat for surgery and sadly the animal died

Other Christmas dangers to pets

  • Remember loud noises will panic your pet, such as Christmas crackers, poppers, balloons, and champagne bottles.
  • Remove your Christmas wrapping paper (and toys) from the floor to avoid your pet chewing or swallowing it.
  • For your pet’s safety this Christmas always buy your pet’s presents from a reputable outlet.
  • In many households this is often the only time of year that your pet is exposed to large gatherings of noisy excitable people and children. This can scare your pet, and this may result in unusual behaviour, placid dogs have been known to get aggressive in this scenario. Therefore make sure your pet has some place where it can find a degree of sanctuary.
  • Locally lilies and poinsettias are seen as common Christmas decorations; these are poisonous to pets and must be kept well out of reach.

FIREWORKS AND YOUR PETS!

Fireworks are enjoyed year-round by lots of people but many animals are frightened by them. It doesn’t have to be that way though, so if your pet is scared, there are lots of things you can do to help. The government has stopped doing fireworks displays , which is a blessing , however sadly this will not deter individuals from purchasing their own , especially those dreaded ‘petaldos’. 

Make sure your dog or cat always has somewhere to hide if they want to and has access to this place at all times. For example, this may be under some furniture or in a cupboard.

Make sure your cat or dog is always kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise.  Have your pets microchipped in case they do escape  –  by law, your dog should already be microchipped.

During fireworks seasons, walk dogs during daylight hours and keep cats and dogs indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off.

At nightfall, close windows and curtains and put on music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks.   

Never punish your pets when they are scared as this will only make things worse. 

Each evening before the fireworks begin, move your dog to the play area and provide toys and other things that they enjoy.

Make sure that there are things for you to do too so that your dog isn’t left alone.

Ignore the firework noises yourself. Play with a toy to see if your dog wants to join in, but don’t force them to play.

Each evening before the fireworks begin, move your dog to the play area and provide toys and other things that they enjoy.

Pheromone diffusers and pheromone collars are available from the vet clinic. These disperse calming chemicals into the room and may be a good option for your dog. The collar centralises the pheromones around the dog so in some cases is more effective. 

In some cases we may prescribe medication. These are tranquilisers that will sedate your pet and make him less aware and therefore less frightened of fireworks.

Finally from myself and all the staff at the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic we wish you all a fabulous Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

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