With the arrival of December each year, the “silly season” is upon us – time for parties, holidays, winding down for the year and welcoming a new year at the end of the month. While it’s all fun and games for humans, your pet needs some special consideration at this time of the year.
A home that is busy, loud, or full of guests can be overwhelming for your pet – and even more importantly, festive foods and decorations can literally be hazardous or even deadly for your cat, dog, or another animal friend.
Tips for Caring for Your Pets over Christmas
- Provide a safe, quiet haven for your pet away from the noise and unfamiliar people. Even if your pooch loves to socialise, at some point it will become all too much. Cats in particular need space out of the way – so shut them safely in the laundry or similar with food, water, kitty litter and a soft bed.
- Continue your regular dog walking schedule and walk your dog to tire him out prior to the festivities beginning and before your guests arrive. This is great for stress levels and will also help prevent over-excitement.
- Be very wary of Christmas decorations, especially sharp or potentially breakable ornaments and decorative lights. Cats and dogs both like to chew trees (real or fake), tinsel, power cords, and to play with hanging tree baubles. Dogs may mistake baubles for balls – and this can be very dangerous if ornaments break in their mouth or under their feet. Decorations can cause bleeding, cuts, and even internal blockages. Lights can cause electrocution. Even edible candy canes can be dangerous – they are intended for human consumption, not that of pets.
- Clear wrapping paper and ribbons as soon as gifts have been unwrapped – your dog (and some cats) will try to eat it and it can be fatal if it gets into the intestines.
- The Festive Season is all about scrumptious foods – but much of what we love to eat at this time of year can be deadly to pets. Never let dogs or cats anywhere near access to:
- Onion or garlic
- Christmas pudding
- Currants or raisins
- Cooked bones
- Pork or ham
- Nuts, especially macadamias
All of these foods or additives in them are very dangerous if ingested – and dogs, in particular, can be very crafty about sneaking a taste (or more). Supervise your pet carefully and be aware of signs of toxicity – including breathing issues, panting, drooling, twitching, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
Other hazards to be aware of include hot weather and heatstroke, fireworks, and festive weight gain. You also need to be aware that dogs, in particular, may not wait for Christmas morning to open the gifts under the tree!
Include your pet in the festivities – give a new toy or two, offer extra pet-friendly treats in moderation, and give loads of love and affection. Make time to play and cuddle with your pet. Merry Christmas!