Christmas is an exciting time of year where we can spend quality time with our family, friends and pets, while celebrating with many wonderful Christmas traditions. However, our homes at Christmas can sometimes pose a risk to our pets – we want to help you make Christmas as safe as possible for your pets, so you can all enjoy this special time.

How to keep your pet safe around the house at Christmas time

During Christmas we will usually decorate our houses with Christmas trees, lights and other festive ornaments… but if you have a pet, certain Christmas decorations can pose a risk to them. There are, however, a number of simple steps that you can take to make your house safe for your pet.

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are a popular decoration found in many of our houses, but if you have a pet that chews then you need to make sure that any wires are kept out of their reach. Rabbits who are kept in the house will commonly chew wires, so to avoid any accidents you should keep the area where your rabbits lives wire-free – and all other wires in the house should be covered up with a protective cover and kept out of your rabbits’ reach. Rabbits are not the only pet who may chew wires, so if you have a dog who chews, an inquisitive cat or even a rodent, then no unprotected wires are safe.

Christmas Trees

Pets may also be fascinated with Christmas trees, particularly bouncy dogs and many cats, and they may frequently knock decorations off your tree. Certain decorations can be a risk to a pet, so there may be some decoration types that you want to avoid using, including;

  • Breakable decorations – If broken these may injure your pet.
  • Salt dough decorations – These have a high salt content so can make pets ill if they eat them.
  • Chocolate decorations – These are toxic to dogs and cats, and so can make them ill if eaten.
Candles

Candles can make a lovely festive decoration but it is important to enjoy candles safely, as the flame can burn inquisitive pets who may want to investigate them. Even small burns can cause nasty and painful injuries, so care should be taken to keep candles out of your pet’s reach, or to use them in a room that your pet does not have access to.

Pets and Christmas presents

In the lead up to Christmas we will often keep Christmas presents under the tree. However, inquisitive pets, particularly dogs, often won’t wait to open presents and may chew or eat the contents. This means that any presents that may contain items that may harm your dog are kept out of their reach.

If your pet develops an injury or illness over Christmas then you should phone our practice where one of our team can give you advice and arrange for your pet to see one of our vets.

How to keep your pet safe around Christmas food

There are many tasty Christmas dishes that we enjoy sharing with family and friends. While we may enjoy these Christmas treats it is important to understand that this food may not be suitable for our dogs to eat.

Your pet’s diet over Christmas

Over Christmas, dogs can commonly suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea as a result of being fed rich food that is not part of their normal diet. For normal healthy dogs these cases are usually mild and short lived. However, for certain individuals, being fed unfamiliar food that is often high in fat can lead to the development of a serious condition called pancreatitis that will require veterinary treatment. To prevent these conditions from developing, it is important to only feed your dog their normal food and to limit the number of treats that they receive.

Christmas food that dogs should avoid

There are a number of foods that are commonly eaten at Christmas that are toxic to dogs including;

  • Grapevine fruit – grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas
  • Xylitol – a sugar free sweetener
  • Chocolate and Cocoa
  • Alcohol

Any foods that contain these as ingredients will also be toxic to your dog, therefore it is important to check the ingredients so you can keep this food out of your dog’s reach. Many Christmas foods do contain food that is toxic to dogs including Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding, so extra care needs to be taken at this time of year to keep your pet safe.

If your dog does eat something that is toxic, then you should phone our veterinary practice urgently so we can arrange for your dog to come in to see one of our vets for treatment.

Christmas and your pets dental health

Maintaining your pet’s dental health is important all year round and should not be forgotten over Christmas. With the excitement of festive activities it can be easy to break routines, but you should try to continue brushing your dogs and cats teeth. Dental disease, tooth fractures and other dental issues can be a great source of pain for your pet so by caring for your pet’s teeth you can try to avoid your pet suffering from dental problems. We would also recommend bringing your pet in to see us for regular dental checks to make sure that any dental issues are picked up and treated early. We are currently offering all pets a FREE dental check with one of our nurses as well as an additional 10% off any treatment required!

We wish you and your pets a safe and happy Christmas. However, if over the Christmas period your pet does become ill or develops an injury then you should phone our practice for further advice where we can arrange for a vet to see your pet if needed.