Christmas is a fabulous time for us humans, but it is fraught with hazards for our pets! Some pets of a rather more nervous disposition might find the changes that take place in the home (with the tree and decorations, plus extra visitors and comings-and-goings of family members) rather stressful.
But there are also physical dangers that can face pets and other animals during the festive season, which UK charities such as the RSPCA are keen to warn people about.
Here are two of the main things to beware of this Christmas if you own a pet and some practical suggestions for pet-proofing your Christmas this year:
Cats and dogs routinely go outside, so you might think that if they have the sense not to eat a tree when it’s in your garden, they won’t start eating one just because it happens to be inside your house. But a tree in the garden doesn’t have lots of interesting, dangling decorations and lights hanging from it, and nor does it shed its needles onto a hard surface where they can push into the soft pads of a paw. So, inside, trees pose the following risks:
- Pine trees (and the water they stand in, if they are cut) are toxic to cats and any needle that is eaten can puncture the intestines or throat.
- Chocolate decorations are tempting to dogs, but chocolate can make them ill or even kill them.
- Electric cords for your lights are tantalisingly curly and swingy, too much of a temptation for most cats and some dogs. Chewing through a wire can lead to electrocution.
- Glass baubles that shatter and shed pine needles can cause injuries to paws.
Tips to Reduce Tree-Related Dangers:
1. Buy a plastic tree (though be vigilant to monitor whether your pet develops an unhealthy interest in chewing the plastic boughs – some pets do like the taste of plastic!).
2. Keep wires tucked out of the way and/or secured properly to the wall.
3. Use unbreakable baubles or decorations made from fabrics.
4. If you do use a real tree, sweep or vacuum regularly to get rid of dropped needles.
We tend to vastly overeat at Christmas and that means that often our pets get extra treats and leftovers too – leading to some colossal cats and porky pooches. Obesity in pets is serious and needs to be avoided – remember that when a dog eats a digestive biscuit it is the calorific equivalent of a human eating a burger. There are also some foods that are toxic and must not be given to your pets:
- Salt (remember that there is salt in cheese, and in gravy).
- Poultry bones (unlike other meat bones, chicken and turkey bones splinter when bitten, causing damage to the mouth, throat and gut).
Finally, as well as your own pets please try to remember the pets that don’t have homes this Christmas, that are cared for by UK charities like the RSPCA. They need to raise money by asking for donations from the public to keep the animals in their care warm, safe and fed all year round – so if you can, please spare a thought and some change or food for your local shelter.