Keeping our pets safe during the Festive season can be a difficult challenge. There are so many new, unusual, tasty and decorative items that we introduce into our homes at Christmas time. Pine trees, lights, presents, plants, ornaments and chocolates are just some of the things that could harm your pets if they are eaten, chewed or swallowed. We all surely want to avoid a visit to the Vet’s surgery during the holidays, so take these preventative steps to make sure that your pets are safe.
Christmas Tree – if possible place this in a corner, away from your pet’s easy access. Some fresh trees have been treated with a preservative containing chemicals to make them last longer in your home. Take care that your dog or cat doesn’t drink water from the bowl the tree is sitting in, or they will certainly get a stomach upset from the toxins. Cover the base of the tree with a cover, or a foil or plastic covering wrap. The pine needles from fir trees can get stuck in your dog’s throat or paws and the oil in the branches, if chewed. may be mildly toxic. When you go out of the room where the Christmas tree is, close the door after you to avoid any unfortunate incidents.
Tinsel – if you must add sparkly tinsel to your tree, place it on the higher branches out of their reach. Tinsel, if swallowed, can possibly cause an intestinal blockage, which may well result in surgery to remove the offending item.
Sparkly lights – don’t layer electric fairy lights on the lower branches of the tree as not only are they a burning hazard, but your dog may become tangled up. Make sure your pet doesn’t have access to any cables, or they may receive an unwanted electric shock if they chew through the wires. Mouth tissue damage can be severe from a burn, leading to longer term eating problems. Inspect the cables frequently for any signs of them being chewed.
Ornaments – these need to be hung out of reach too, especially any treasured and delicate ones. Place them on the highest branches, and securely fasten to the branches. Not only are plastic decorations a choking hazard that may result in intestinal blockages, but any tiny shards of glass from broken baubles, can cause serious cuts and injuries to your pet’s mouth and paws.
Edible decorations – whether they be chocolate, popcorn strings or even dog-friendly treats, are all just too appealing to your pet. They will jump at the Christmas tree to try and reach them, or will tug at the branches and pull over the tree.
Chocolate decorations are harmful to pets so make sure they are hung well out of their reach.
Candles – any burning candles must be kept well out of your pet’s reach. Place them on high mantels or tall shelves, well out of the reach of your dog’s wagging tail. If you have an open fire or a wood burning stove, always use a fire screen to prevent any accidental burns and scorching fur.
Gift Wrapping – keep your pet well out of the way when wrapping gifts. If they manage to chew or swallow any tape, ribbons or wrapping paper, this may cause an intestinal blockage.
Tempting Treats – there is nothing more teasing, and appetizing of course, than the aroma of a succulent turkey or joint of beef cooking in the kitchen on Christmas morning, and this is just as tempting to our pets too. Don’t leave any food where it’s in their easy reach, particularly turkey bones that may become lodged in their throats if chewed.
A Busy Home – the festive season often brings together many friends and family, with many new faces and unusual noises that may alarm your dog. If space allows, provide them with their own space in a spare room where they can be more at ease. Try to keep to your pets’ normal routines, especially with exercise and feeding, to prevent them becoming too anxious and disturbed.
It’s safest to stick to unbreakable ornaments and artificial plants, to avoid any unnecessary hazards in the home at Christmas time. You can then be sure that you’ve done all you can to make sure your pet is safe, and you can all have a healthy, happy Christmas holiday together.
This is a guest blog by one of our many animal community friends. It has not been written by The Finchley Vet staff. We love to showcase other people's work as we think it makes things more interesting for you, our readers, however, it does mean that we have not checked any of the facts and any opinions are those of the author and not of the Finchley Vet, or Local Vet Ltd.