Keeping Your Pets Safe at Christmas

Christmas is often a time for festive cheer and indulgence with loved ones – something many of us look forward to all year round.

During the Christmas period, it can be more difficult to resist treating your pets with scraps of human foods. However this temptation must be resisted because many harmful ingredients make their way into seasonal treats, which can result in accidental poisoning.  Unlike us, our pets’ digestive systems also do not cope well with sudden changes in their diet, regardless of the time of year.

There are also other hazards, such as Christmas trees and cold conditions, to prepare for in good time to keep your pets safe.

We’ve outlined our Christmas pet-care tips below to help you keep your beloved cats and dogs safe this festive season. Read on to find out more.

Christmas Trees

A mainstay of any Christmas season, but unfortunately, live, cut Christmas trees can be dangerous for cats and dogs. This is because pine needles can be ingested and puncture intestines. Not only this, but pine is highly toxic to cats – potentially causing liver damage.1

Additionally, this means that the water that cut trees are placed into is also toxic.

Generally, an artificial tree is safer than a live one. However, if your cat does eat parts of the artificial tree this could cause an intestinal blockage. Spraying the tree with a bitter apple spray can make for a good deterrent – this should help to stop your cat from chewing on the tree.2

It’s important to be aware of the potential hazards of Christmas trees and their decorations. To be on the safe side, close the door so that your cat doesn’t have access to the tree unless supervised.

Antifreeze

When de-icing your car this Christmas, remember to keep your antifreeze in closed containers in a safe location – locked far away from anywhere your dog or cat can possibly reach. This is because antifreeze is toxic for all cats and dogs.

Cats and dogs usually come into contact with antifreeze when it leaks from a car’s engine onto the ground, if spilt onto the ground during filling or when the container is left uncapped.3

This is why empty containers and dirty rags should be disposed of safely – if your cats often go through bin bags, don’t leave it to chance – put them in unbreakable bags and clean any area in which antifreeze has been used.

If you have any reason to believe your cat or dog has ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, contact your vet immediately and prepare to take your pet there following further instructions.

Foods

The cheese board is a temptation at any Christmas drinks party, but make sure you don’t slip any crumbs of blue cheese to the hosts’ dog. Roquefort and other blue cheeses contain mycotoxin roquefortine, which dogs are highly sensitive to.

This toxin is also found on other mouldy foods, so make sure bin bags awaiting collection are kept in a location your dogs can’t reach.

The effects of overindulging on alcohol are well-known at Christmas time, but remember it is significantly more toxic to dogs and cats than humans. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and abnormal blood acidity.

Find out more about the foods that dogs should avoid.

Turkey and all the trimmings is often the masterpiece of any Christmas feast, but remember that pets can choke on bones easily, and cooked bones from the turkey carcass can splinter easily and become lodged in or even puncture your cat or dog’s digestive tract.

In regards to the trimmings, sage and onion stuffing may seem an innocuous leftover treat for your cat or dog, but onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives can all be toxic, even when cooked.

Christmas pudding, fruit cake and mince pies should also be strictly off limits for cats and dogs due to a toxic substance in grapes and raisins which can cause kidney failure.

Chocolate is widely known to be poisonous to dogs, so make sure you keep your advent calendars well-hidden and out of reach.

Keep your cat safe by learning more about the foods that cats can’t eat.

Presents and wrappings

Cats are often fascinated by glitter and brightly coloured ties and ribbons on a well-wrapped gift, and see them as new toys to play with – any bits of wrapping or loose strands accidentally ingested could well present a problem.

Additionally, if your presents are under the tree, you might also need to watch out that your cat does not start unwrapping your Christmas presents before you’re ready to open them yourself!

To be safe, keep all presents, decorations and wrappings out of the reach of pets wherever possible.

If you have any other concerns regarding Christmas time with your pet cat or dog, please contact your vet for further advice.

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