There are always presents to wrap, people to see and turkeys to cook over the busy festive period – but just be aware of the hidden hazards which could ruin your pet’s Christmas.
The RSPCA is urging pet-owners to be prepared for any emergencies which arise over Christmas – and to ensure that the festive time is as non-stressful as possible for our fluffy friends.
From toxic foods, the dangers of decorations and keeping your pet calm among the Christmas chaos, here are some of the RSPCA’s top tips for a ‘pet-safe’ Christmas…
Prevent your pets from being poisoned
Most pet owners know that chocolate and onions can never be given to dogs and if your dog does accidently eat these foods you should ring your vet straight away for advice.
However, less well-known is that raisins, currants and sultanas – commonly added to festive bakes – are also extremely dangerous to dogs.
West Highland terrier Harry, pictured right, spent a worrying few days recovering at a vets over Christmas last year after pinching a bag of raisins from his owner’s handbag.
His owner, Rachel Butler-Mallett, from Derby, said: “Fortunately I realised what had happened and called an emergency out-of-hours vets straightaway. Blood tests showed that Harry’s kidneys had started to fail as a result of eating the raisins.
“He was put on a drip for more than 20 hours – we were extremely worried about him and whether he would be left with permanent kidney damage. Thankfully he was OK.
“We were left with a large bill at the end of it but we were just so grateful he recovered.
“Hopefully other people will read this and will know what to do if they are ever in the same situation.”
Other foods to keep away from your pet include leeks, garlic, macadamia nuts, cooked bones (e.g. chicken bones), alcohol and any leftover food which has gone mouldy.
If you believe your pet has eaten something toxic, contact your vet immediately.
“It’s not just food which is a hazard to our pets – some household items can be dangerous too,” said Alice Potter, from the RSPCA’s Companion Animals team. “Popular festive plants including poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe can be mildly toxic, so avoid these if you have pets.
Lilies are extremely toxic to cats – never have these in the home if you have cats. Tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for your pet to play with – but make sure they don’t eat it!
“Silica gel, which is often put in packaging, can cause your pet stomach upset if ingested, as can pot pourri.”
Avoid overindulging your pet
“It’s normal for us to overindulge over the Christmas period – but don’t pass on this habit to your pets, no matter how tempting it may be to shower them with tasty treats!” said Alice.
“Extra weight gain can lead to health problems, so to keep your pet healthy and happy, keep treats to a minimum.”
Don’t forget to stock up
There is always so much going on at Christmas that it can be hard to remember everything! But planning ahead can avoid any potential panic. Alice said: “Make sure you have the number of an emergency vet to hand, just in case. If your pet is on medication, stock up before the holidays so you don’t get caught short.”
Keeping your pet calm among the chaos
Christmas is a chaotic time and this could cause our pets to feel stressed.
“You can help your pet cope with the chaos by keeping to their normal routine as much as possible,” said Alice. “It will also help your pet if you provide them with somewhere cosy and quiet where they can retreat to if the excitement gets too much.
“You might have lots of guests coming and going, so make sure doors aren’t left open because there would be a chance that your pet could get out when you aren’t watching.”
The RSPCA operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If an animal requires the RSPCA’s help over the festive season, call the charity’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.