Keeping Your Pets Safe and Merry This Christmas
Christmas is a time for bracing. Bracing ourselves for elongated times with our families, for the gargantuan quantities of food we will no doubt be consuming, and for all the alcohol we will be drinking (responsibly). This article is for all the new pet owners who may have welcomed home a fur ball of love this year and, as a result, be sharing their first Christmas together. We are here to help you brace for anything and everything your puppy or kitten could try and get up to so you can keep them safe and smiling.
There are a lot of ‘don’ts’ in this article. We want you to know it’s not to scare you, it’s ‘cos we love you. Lots.
Christmas foods that are not suitable for dogs or cats
- Chocolate: Big no no. We’d all love to share a chocolate with our pets, mainly so we don’t have to eat a whole box of Ferrero Rochers by ourselves, but sadly we cannot. Keep chocolate to yourself.
- Cooked Bones: It can be hard to resist those puppy eyes begging for a share of your roast turkey, but it’s important not to feed your pets bones or meat which may have bones in it.
- Onions/Garlic: Both can cause an upset stomach - also no one likes garlic breath.
- High Fatty/Salty Foods: Sausages, ham, bacon etc. all have high fat and salt content, which can cause an upset stomach. Best to keep those pigs in blankets to yourself!
- Christmas Pudding/Mince Pies: Anything that contains raisins, currents or grapes is extremely toxic. Keep well clear of your pets (for humans, we suggest adding warm custard topped with a scoop of ice cream).
- Nuts: Do NUT let your pets eat them (pun intended).They have a high fat and salt content, which can cause stomach upset.
- Alcohol: If your pet consumes alcohol, they might react in a similar way to a human e.g., wobbly or drowsy, and in some cases, overly demanding for petting. Drink up (responsibly).
- Artificial Sweeteners: Lots of the sweets and treats you may have lying around the house at Christmas will contain artificial sweeteners. Keep out of pets reach. Treat yourself to an extra portion.
Foods that are considered safe
Your normal dog/cat food is the best thing to feed your pet during the Christmas season, as even small changes in diet can cause an upset stomach. However, our furry friends don’t need to miss out on all the fun - if you do want to give your pet a treat, here is a list of foods that are safe and delicious:
- Dog or cat specific chocolate, biscuits, and treats
- Plenty of boiled or steamed vegetables (just make sure there is no added salt or butter)
- Lean parts of white meat (without any sauces, glazes or oils)
Words of warning on tree chocolates / leaving chocolate gifts lying around
As chocolate can be very dangerous, it’s important that we take extra measures to ensure it’s not going to end up in the mouths of our beloved pets.
While tree chocolates can be a lovely decorative touch to our Christmas trees, it’s best to place these on the higher branches to ensure pets (and any visiting greedy children) can’t reach them.
It’s also important to be mindful of gifts that may contain anything that could be harmful to your pet, such as chocolate. Your pet will be able to sniff chocolate through any wrapping so to make sure they can’t get their paws on them, place them out of reach and somewhere other than under the tree!
When wondering whether you should really eat your 10th tree chocolate of the night, just remember you’re doing it for the safety of your pet!
Any other safety advice / hazards people need to be aware of?
There are multiple hazards around the house that pet owners need to be mindful of when getting their homes ready for Christmas.
- Plants: You may have a few extra plants around the house over Christmas so it’s important to know which of these may be harmful to your pets. Some plants, if ingested, can cause an upset stomach.
- Christmas Decorations: Pets love to play and chew anything they can get their paws on, so keep your decoration choices and placements as safe as possible
- Salt and grit on the pavement and roads can cause irritation to the pads on dogs’ paws so make sure to wipe their feet after taking them out for a walk.
- Santa: He can come down the chimney pretty hard and fast, so make sure your pet doesn’t sleep under the chimney on Christmas Eve.
What extra bits can pet owners be doing to keep their pets safe?
With festive celebrations in full swing, there are going to be a lot of changes in the house, including the addition of a Christmas tree, decorations, presents, more people, and potentially even fireworks. All of these factors can cause heightened stress and anxiety in pets, therefore it’s important to be mindful and keep an eye on any abnormal behaviour.
Pets can get over stimulated when it’s too loud, so we’d recommend keeping safe spaces and hiding spots (especially for cats) and a separate room for dogs. You can also use calming products to help keep your pets relaxed during this busy time.
If you’re unsure about any abnormal behaviour or feel anxious about how your pet is responding to a change in their environment, Waggel offers free vet video calls with FirstVet. This will help put your mind at ease and ensure your pet is happy and healthy over the festive season.