It may be the most wonderful time of the year for many, but Christmas can pose some serious dangers to family pets.
From tinsel to trifle, the trappings of the festive period represent many potential hazards for pets, and owners are being urged to recognise the dangers this year to reduce the thousands of incidents vets across the country have to deal with during Christmas.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Far from being a Scrooge by asking owners to think about their pets, we are hoping to give everyone the present of a safe, incident free Christmas.
“We understand that Christmas can be a very hectic time for pet owners, but it is important to keep an eye on pets during this period.
“Christmas trees are a key centrepiece in most family homes in the festive season, however they can be a potential problem for pets.
“Cats love to climb trees, while dogs (and cats) will eat tinsel, decorations and sometimes even the angel. Christmas tree lights and wiring should also be kept away from inquisitive pets.”
But the biggest problem is food, with vets citing numerous examples of pets falling seriously ill through eating festive nibbles and treats.
Last year York Vets4Pets spent three days treating and caring for a miniature poodle that had eaten six large mince pies – the dog eventually made a full recovery.
In another case a cocker spaniel ate three large pieces of Christmas cake, resulting in her stomach being pumped and an extended stay at a vet surgery.
“It can be very tempting for owners to give their pet leftovers of the Christmas meal. However, we strongly advise against this, as festive foods like chocolate, raisins, nuts and the Christmas pudding can be toxic to pets,” added Dr Stacey.
Cats aren’t innocent though, as another surgery found out when one was admitted for getting tinsel wrapped around its tongue.
Here’s Vets4Pets ten tips to keep your pets safe:
1: Do not feed your pet any festive food. Chocolate, raisins, nuts, fruit cakes and mince pies are some examples of food that can be toxic to pets
2: Although most species of Christmas tree have low toxicity, do not let your pet eat any part of your tree, as it may cause mild vomiting and diarrhoea
3: Make sure to vacuum up any fallen pine needles, as they can get stuck in your pet’s paws and cause irritation, as well as potentially irritating the intestines if ingested
4: Make sure your tree is well anchored so your pet can’t pull it over
5: Keep decorations like holly, mistletoe and poinsettia well out of reach, as they are mildly toxic if eaten and can result in vomiting, drooling or diarrhoea
6: Keep baubles, tinsel, toys and Christmas light wires well out of reach, as pets may be tempted to try and eat them. You could even put fencing around your tree as an extra precaution
7: Make sure your pet has a quiet place where they can relax and feel safe
8: Loud noises can scare pets, so be considerate when pulling Christmas crackers, party poppers or letting off any fireworks
9: Don’t leave lit candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock them over
10: Keep all alcoholic beverages well out of reach as alcohol is toxic to pets
Dr Stacey added: “The festive period can be scary for pets, as their home is invaded with lots of people and loud noises. We suggest that owners make sure their pet has a quiet place in the house where they can relax.
“Accidents and illnesses caused by Christmas hazards are easily preventable if owners take these simple precautions. Then owners and pets alike can enjoy a merry Christmas.”