While Christmas is an exciting time of year for the family, it can be both stressful and potentially dangerous for your pet. Follow our top tips to make sure you have a pet-friendly Christmas.
Safety around Christmas decorations
Candles decorate many of our homes at Christmas, but the wagging tails of excited dogs mean they fall easily and can prove to be a fire hazard.
Christmas treesChristmas trees may look festive, but they’re not very pet-friendly.
Always anchor your Christmas tree to make sure it can’t fall and hurt them.
The water in your tree stand can become stagnant and your pet can become very sick from drinking it. Make sure you replace it or make sure your pet can’t reach it.
Be sure to vacuum frequently to clean up fallen pine needles so your pet can’t ingest them. Pine needles can puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested and pine sap is toxic to cats and dogs.
Leave the lower branches undecorated so your pets can’t play with or eat them. Or invest in new pet-friendly half-parasol trees that only have branches on the top half. Not having baubles and bowed branches on the bottom half reduces the risk to your pet.
If you have pets, don’t put chocolate decorations on your Christmas tree.
Choose non-toxic decorations.
Tinsel and silver ribbons on the tree may be attractive to your pet but can cause intestinal obstruction if they eat them. If they eat them, it can make them seriously ill and require surgery.
Avoid glass jewelry that can be cut by pets. Also, if the glass decoration falls and breaks, the shards can also easily injure their claws.
Edible decorations such as popcorn garlands, candy canes and chocolate decorations are not recommended and should never be left within your pet’s reach. Read our blog on festive foods that can harm your dog here.
Having edible decorations on the tree will encourage them to jump and try and reach them.
Get a cable guard for your fairy lights as cats, dogs and rabbits can try to chew on the wires, electrocuting them.
Some pets may find flashing lights on trees distracting and stressful and may want to pull or play with tree decorations.
The light can cause burns to cats and dogs if your pet gets tangled in the wire.
Other hazards in the home
Holly, ivy, poinsettia and mistletoe are all common Christmas plants. However, all of these are poisonous and highly toxic to your pet. Amaryllis and ferns are also poisonous to cats and dogs. Never leave them accessible to your pets.
Open flames and gas fires can burn your pet if they get too close, sparks from open flames can also cause burns. Use a fire guard to make sure they don’t singe their skin or get blisters.
Medicines – for humans and dogs
Sugar-coated ibuprofen tablets are very attractive to dogs. If you suspect they have eaten them, you need to get veterinary help right away.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, stomach ulcers and kidney damage.
Medication for pets
If your pet takes any medication, make sure you have enough supplies to see you through the holiday season when surgery may be closed.
Gifts – for humans and pets
If your pet eats wrapping paper or ribbon, these dangerous intestinal blockages can occur.
Keep your pets out of the way when wrapping presents, and if you have a very curious pet who may try to eat the wrapped presents, it is advisable to keep the presents out of sight or in some way. Fence your Christmas tree and your presents. So that your pets cannot reach them.
Dispose of any string or ribbon carefully so your pet can’t eat or get tangled in it.
Silica gel comes in small sachets and is used to keep moisture out of electrical appliances, clothes, bags or toys. It’s small and easily missed so be careful looking for it. It is toxic to humans and pets.
Instead of feeding pets potentially harmful or unhealthy foods, treat them with new toys, collars or extra attention.
Pets should be given pet toys – children’s toys will not adhere to pet safety standards and may prove to be dangerous. Click Here For advice on helping your choking pet
Limit your pet’s stress.
A change in routine can upset pets.
To ease their festive stress, try to maintain your own routines for meals, exercise, bed and toilet breaks. Consistency can increase a pet’s sense of security.
Offer a relaxing retreat away from the noise and excitement (and the kids), so your pet can get some peace and quiet. Leave toys there to create a positive association with the retreat.
Crowded houses, with extra guests and excited children, can be extremely stressful for your pet.
Children can be very powerful, desperately wanting to stroke and tease them.
Unfamiliar noises and the added stress of overstimulation can cause them to explode. Be very sensitive to when your pet needs a break. Remind guests not to feed any scraps to their pets.
If you’re going away over Christmas, make sure you don’t leave your pet alone for too long. If they are traveling with you, take something familiar with them to help your guests settle in.
Check out our blog on safe pet travel here: https://firstaidforpets.net/pet-travel/
Make sure your dog enjoys long walks to ensure they are tired to prevent any bored or disruptive behavior. The same applies to humans!
Other important information
Do not let your pet eat turkey or chicken bones, they can splinter and rupture their intestines.
Have emergency vet contact details ready in case of accidents or if your pet eats something.
For more information on how to help your pet if they have been poisoned, please click here to download our eBook.