Keeping your pets safe at Christmas

Christmas is a fun time of the year for many people, but we also need to ensure that our pets stay safe, happy, and comfortable too. Our tips below should help them to enjoy this festive time of year.

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Christmas is a fun time of the year for many people, but we also need to ensure that our pets stay safe, happy, and comfortable too. Our tips below should help them to enjoy this festive time of year.

Provide a safe space for your pet

Cats

Ensure that your cats have their own safe space, especially if large groups of people are coming over. Giving the cat the choice to have some hiding places and spaces up high means they can watch what is happening from a safe distance, but also choose to come out if they wish. If your pets enjoy being outside a lot, then it might be worth considering a warm, dry area that they can take shelter in if needed. Your cat’s litter trays, food and water should be kept in a quiet area where they won’t be disturbed. Be sure to keep the litter tray and their eating area separate!

Dogs

A house full of visitors over the Christmas period has a tendency to be quite busy and noisy, and this can be a worrying experience for dogs. Many dogs are also scared of the sound of party poppers or crackers being pulled. During large family gatherings, it’s always a good idea to provide the dog with a safe space where no one will disturb them.

While a 'home alone box' is not a substitute for human companionship, it can help your dog to cope in periods where they'll be left home alone for short periods of time while you are visiting friends or family. Find out how to build the perfect home alone box here.

Small pets

Fireworks tend to be lit around Christmas and New Years Eve, and this can be a terrifying experience for many pets. For those outdoor small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs, it’s best to ensure that they have their own safe space with plenty of bedding and hiding places.

Family and friends visiting can be stressful. Move accommodation to avoid stress from unexpected noise or poor handling from visitors.

Food

  • Although it’s tempting to treat our pets at Christmas to the same kind of tasty food we eat, we must remember that this can cause them to have an upset stomach, and could lead to your pet gaining weight.
  • Chocolate contains theobromine, while sweets can contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol – both are toxic for dogs, so be mindful to place any sweet treats out of reach from your pooch, along with mince pies!
  • Avoid purchasing Christmas treats filled with colourants and unnatural ingredients – they can cause obesity and digestive issues.

Some festive plants are toxic to pets

  • Be mindful about what plants you put on display during the festive season. Some plants, such as poinsettias, holly berries, ivy, mistletoe, lillies, and rosemary can be toxic for your pets - they can cause gastrointestinal upset, or kidney failure if consumed.  
  • Keep foliage decorations such as wreaths, table displays, and Christmas trees out of reach of any free-ranging small pets, as many are made of plants that are toxic to animals.

Christmas trees and other decorations

  • Some pets - kittens especially, enjoy climbing Christmas trees. We recommend keeping the tree out of reach, or securely tie the tree to ensure it doesn't fall over. Hanging edible decorations, like chocolate, are poisonous to dogs and can cause health issues. If you are worried that your dog has consumed any chocolate during the festive season, please contact your vet immediately. 
  • Also be aware that many pets might be tempted to chew or play with decorations, especially those that are lower down the tree. Non-glass tree decorations are best, to avoid any smashed glass if your pet has managed to get hold of one.
  • Tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for a pet to play with, but can cause some difficulties in your pet's digestive system if consumed. They should be supervised to ensure that none is swallowed.
  • If your pet is prone to chewing, please be mindful of your Christmas tree lights, as there is a risk of electrocution if a cat chews through them. 

Presents

  • Presents that contain small pieces are at risk of being swallowed by some pets, and should be placed out of reach if your pet is prone to chewing.
  • If you, your friends or family are gifted food items, it's best to keep these out of reach of your pets.

 

Cold weather

  • If you’re looking to take a Christmas walk with your dog, it is worth noting that salt rather than grit when used on walking surfaces can make a dogs pads very sore, especially if they have a cut or graze on them.
  • Keeping the hair between your dog’s toes short helps to reduce the risk of ice balls forming and causing discomfort in that area. Keeping dogs away from frozen lakes or rivers will also ensure they remain safe.

Christmas gift ideas for your pets

There’s plenty of gifts out there in pet shops, supermarkets and online retailers, but creating your own presents for your pets can be a fun, and cost-effective way of including them in your celebrations.

Our enrichment ideas provide both fun and tasty, yet healthy treats for your dogs, cats, and small pets. You can find all of our ideas here.

We hope you and your pets have a very Merry Christmas! 

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