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Hazards to avoid this festive season

Christmas is approaching! Lots of tasty food will be arriving in your household. Gifts will be hidden around the house and new, fancy decorations will be put up both inside and outside the house. All these changes can act as hazards to our pets and we need to minimise the risks of them.

Keep food out of reach of the pets. All the food that looks tasty to us, also looks tasty to them! Lots of pets may steal and eat food that could be toxic to them. Pets can become fatally ill by overeating - or by eating the wrong things. Ensure food is stored in secure packaging out of the reach of any pets. Even if food is being used as a present, avoid leaving it out as your pets may smell the food and attempt to unwrap the gift themselves to get to it. As tempting as it may seem to give your pet extra treats over the festive season, it is safest to keep their diet the same. This avoids any potential stomach upsets.

Food toxins will be present. Our staff are able to discuss any specific food toxins should you want a list. Chocolate and raisins are the main toxins that you should avoid giving any pets. The higher the cocoa content, the more toxic the chocolate. Avoid chocolate decorations as these may be eaten without anyone even realising until you have a seriously ill, unhappy pet. However, also watch out for cooked bones that can splinter and damage the intestines, raw poultry that may contain diarrhoea-causing bacteria, salted nuts that can cause salt poisoning, and onions that can lead to anaemia.

Ensure animals living outside do not get too cold. December is one of the coldest months of the year. Pets that live outside may need extra blankets, bedding or shelter around their living space. Water should be checked regularly to ensure it is not frozen and that your pet has access to drink it at all times. 

Equally, when you are exercising your animal, be aware of snow or ice on the floor. Wear sensible shoes and do not encourage your animal to run fast whilst on slippery ground. If they slip, they could dislocate bones or pull muscles, leaving them very uncomfortable and in need of veterinary attention. 

Ensure any decorations are stable. Pets moving around in the home may cause decorations to get knocked down. It is advised not to hang any smashable ornaments in locations where animals will be moving. This could lead to both your family and your pets becoming injured. Additionally, sharp Christmas tree needles may get stuck in your pet’s paw, therefore using a synthetic tree is recommended. If your cat is likely to climb your Christmas tree, a stable, short tree is better. Avoid putting up any decorations which could cause a fire if knocked over. Nobody is able to keep an eye on their pets every minute of every day, so the safest option is to buy decorations that do not come with a fire hazard. This will reduce the risk of electric shocks and fires. Be aware too of small decorations, if they fall off they may be swallowed and could choke your furry friend. 

Do your wrapping up in a separate room to your pets and clear up any ribbons as soon as you have used them. Avoid buying decorations that dangle down. Dangling objects and ribbons often look extremely fun to play with, however they could cause strangling, or gut damage if swallowed. They could also cause choking if small bits are ripped off. 

Don’t leave animals alone for too long. Everyone has different routines at Christmas time, which could mean leaving the house for a long period of time. Ensure you have pre-planned care for your pets. A sudden change in routine may give your pet anxiety. They still need to be able to exercise, have access to food and drink and be able to behave normally throughout your Christmas break. 

Fireworks may be set off during this celebratory period. If your pet takes medication for firework stress, ensure you have some in your house. If you are aware your pet is stressed by fireworks, be prepared and have somewhere for them to go to provide comfort. Do not leave your animals unattended.

Some pets may become anxious if your house becomes busy. If you know your pet is likely to feel uncomfortable, try to find a quiet room for them to stay in. Pheromones can be bought to help relax your pet. Alternatively, you could try to distract them with new or favourite toys.

If anything goes wrong this Christmas, do not panic. Our emergency vets will be available to help. Try not create too much fuss around your animals and treat Christmas with them as you would any other day. Remember they are happiest with routine and do not always respond well to change.