Pets are companion animals, adding one to your household should be a well thought out process where the pros and cons are carefully weighed. Purchasing or acquiring animals on a whim often leads to a spate of unwanted animals soon after and also to many deaths of pets through sheer ignorance of people who do not know the requirements and costs of looking after animals.
An animal acquired as a pet has many requirements that the new ‘care provider’ has to adhere to. The animal will need shelter, food and water and someone to care for it every day, they don’t know it’s a weekend or you are away for a couple of days etc etc.
Christmas Pet Safety Tips
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)
- Mouldy or spoiled foods
- 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 lifesaving 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.