Most of us look forward to the Christmas holidays – it’s a season filled with fun, laughter and gifts – but for pets it can be a time of hazards and anxiety.
Christmas trees and plants: Most Christmas tree species have only a low level of toxicity but needles can cause gastrointestinal upset or even intestinal perforation. Choose a ‘non-drop’ species, hoover regularly, keep your tree hydrated to minimise needle drop and avoid leaving your pet unsupervised with the tree. Mistletoe, poinsettias and festive berries can all lead to health problems if ingested so keep out of your pet’s reach.
Tree decorations: Unfortunately playful cats or dogs might be intrigued by the hazardous decorations adorning your tree. Tinsel is not toxic, but ingesting it can cause choking or intestinal blockages. Avoid glass baubles as these can shatter and injure your pet. Supervise your pet near the tree as much as possible.
Festive food: Many of the foods we enjoy at Christmas are toxic to our pets – some even pose life-threatening consequences:
Chocolate is highly toxic to our pets so if you do find your pet has feasted on chocolate while your back was turned, seek advice from your vet.
Nuts are poisonous to many pets and their consumption should be avoided, so ensure that you don’t leave nibbles unattended if your curious pet is prone to tucking in.
Grapes and raisins are found in many festive foods – such as mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake – and can cause kidney failure so ensure that you don’t leave these within their reach.
Be on your guard and keep tempting foods away from your pet – and remember that their regular diet is far more beneficial than rich festive ‘human’ foods.
Wrapping paper, ribbons and gifts: Be mindful of where you store edible chocolate gifts as your pet may decide to help themselves, if stowed beneath the Christmas tree. Discarded ribbons can also become a choking or blockage-causing hazard so dispose of these carefully.
Wintry weather: Be sure to keep your pets warm when temperatures plummet. Another important consideration in cold weather is the storage and use of anti-freeze solution as this tastes sweet to pets but even a small amount can cause serious kidney damage or even death.
It goes without saying that, if you have any doubts about your pet’s health then you should seek immediate veterinary attention.