Top tips for keeping pets safe at Christmas time


As one of the biggest and busiest celebrations of the year, Christmas is a very exciting time for humans. However, for many animals Christmas can be a source of anxiety and can even present potential dangers that may put your pet in harm’s way.

Research has shown that Christmas Eve is 20% busier for emergency referrals to veterinary practices than any other day of the year. Head of Training at Pets Corner Lucy Ross provides her top tips for keeping your pets safe and happy during the festive season:

Keep decorations out of reach: cats and dogs can be very inquisitive animals and will want to explore new and exciting things. The dazzle of Christmas decorations displayed around the house will be attractive to many pets. Animals may be tempted to chew on electric cables attached to decorative lights so make sure any loose wires are tucked well out of the way – for example with special cable hideaways or appropriate tape.

Glass tree baubles can cause serious injuries if they shatter so opt for tree ornaments that won’t break easily, like felt or wood. Small or textured decorations may present a choking hazard and some may contain toxins that are dangerous to animals if ingested. Make sure all decorations are firmly secured and out of the reach of pets.
Keep an eye on the Christmas treats: we all love indulging in lots of fancy festive fare at Christmas. Whilst we readily fill up on gastronomic goodies many festive foods hold an unexpected threat to our furry friends. Chocolate, nuts, grapes and raisins are all highly toxic to animals and can cause serious digestive issues. Always avoid the temptation to feed your pets with human treats and keep an eye on them to ensure they aren’t sneaking a snack behind your back. Keep pets healthy and calm by sticking to their regular diet and normal feeding times throughout the festive period.

Protect pets from the cold winter weather: as the temperature drops and the nights close in make sure your pets are kept warm and given plenty of extra blankets to sleep with. Invest in a good quality animal coat that is fitted to your pet’s measurements. This will help to protect your pet from getting too cold whilst outdoors.

Animal experts issue festive food warning to pet owners

Onion powder, found in savoury snacks like crisps, is extremely poisonous for pets

Apple seeds contain chemical that releases cyanide when digested by dogs

Cooked bones can splinter and cause choking

Life threatening yeast from breads and baked goods can ferment in stomach and intestines

Commonly used artificial sugar Xylitol, found in sweets, is lethal

Animal nutritionists and health experts are urging pet owners to forgo the impulse to feed life threatening human festive fayre to their dogs and cats this Christmas.

Amongst the foodie felons that could lethally harm our canine and cat counterparts are nuts, avocados, corn syrup, crisps and raisins.

Will Bisset, who is a pet food researcher and expert nutritionist at UK ethical retailer Pets Corner, said:

“Whilst it might be tempting to feed pets with human treats, many of them contain poisonous and life threatening chemicals that can either seriously harm or kill animals.

“For example, onion in any form, particularly the powder that is commonly found in most savoury foods including crisps, pizza and many sauces, contains disulphides and thiosulphates that are extremely poisonous to dogs, and even more so for cats, causing anaemia and damaging red blood cells.

“Likewise, toxins found in grapes and raisins, as well as chocolate, can also cause severe damage to a pet’s health.”

Will continued:

“Artificial sugar substitutes, such as Xylitol, can be really harmful to pets, and corn syrup should be avoided at all costs.”

Earlier in the year, the pet retailer warned customers of the common misconception that lettuce and carrots – both of which can result in serious side effects – are safe for rabbits to consume.

Lucy Ross, Head of Training at Pets Corner, said:

“The bulk of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay with 10 per cent of what they eat comprising vegetables such as curly kale, courgette, cabbage or cauliflower leaves.

“The good news is there is one festive favourite rabbits can enjoy safely and that’s Brussels sprouts.”

Whilst nuts are a traditional human treat at Christmas, many of them including almonds, walnuts, hickory nuts, macadamias, pecans and pistachios are toxic to cats and dogs and can cause intestinal obstructions. And even though apple flesh is a perfectly safe ingredient often included in many holistic dog foods, the seeds themselves contain a natural chemical that releases cyanide when digested by animals and are potentially lethal.

Will added:

“Although there are many human foods that are safe to feed, it’s always better to provide a high quality food for pets that provides them with all the nutritional qualities and quantities they need.

“Pet owners should be wary of feeding human foods in any form to their animals, even if traditionally they believe it is safe to do so, as the results could be potentially devastating.”