Keep your four-pawed family safe this Christmas
This Christmas here’s our guide to maintaining festive frivolity for your four-pawed family members. There are a surprising number of common Christmas foods, plants and items that threaten to hinder such festivities, so we’re arming you with the information you need to keep your pets happy and in good health this year.
Keep Felix and Fido free from poisonous foods. Chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic, salted nuts, alcohol, and the sweetener xylitol are classic dog-dangerous, and in some cases cat-astrophic, Christmas foods, so keep your Christmas cake, mince pies and treats well out of reach. Ingesting these foods will usually result in a trip the vets and possibly admission as an inpatient. The symptoms seen with these poisonings range from gastrointestinal signs (such as vomiting and diarrhoea), to lethargy, seizures, and some can even cause death if eaten in large enough quantities. Keep Christmas dinner a human-only delight.
We’ve already mentioned that onions and garlic are bad news for cats and dogs, but we mustn’t forget the danger that meat fats can pose. When treating your pet to de-boned, cooked meat, be proportionate. Consider the size of your pet, it’s all too easy to give them a portion fit for a human. Fat-filled turkey skin and fat trimmings can acutely injure your pet’s pancreas. Pancreatitis is an excruciating condition causing lethargy, vomiting, a hunched appearance and painful abdomen. Pets with pancreatitis will usually require admission as an inpatient for pain relief and intravenous fluids, among other therapies. If your pet eats something it shouldn’t, never make them sick at home, always phone your vet for advice. Often, the sooner we begin treatment, the better the outcome.
If you ‘deck the halls with boughs of holly’, spare a thought for any nosey noses that might take interest in it. Holly, poinsettia and mistletoe can all cause stomach upsets if ingested by your pet. The Christmas tree has to be one of the most exciting annual events for the average feline, so ensure your tree is secured firmly in its pot to prevent it tipping over should your cat choose to use it as a climbing frame. Pets and pine needles don’t mix either, they can make a paw really sore so be mindful if you notice a pet paying their feet any special attention, or if they are limping.
For many younger pooches, the twinkling lights can be too much to resist, not to mention baubles which look suspiciously like the very balls you throw for your dog in the garden. Glass and even plastic baubles can cause nasty cuts if broken and can be a choking risk too. Supervision, pet-friendly decs, or placing them out of reach, are the best ways to combat this potential problem.
Tinsel can tantalise all pets, but cats seem to go wild for it. ‘Linear foreign bodies’ are more common in cats generally, and involve anything that is string-like and ingested. Problems can occur, especially in the intestine; the string can pull tight, drawing the intestines together and exerting pressure on the tissues. Generally they require surgical removal. Wired tinsel also poses an obvious threat as wire can cut the mouths of cats and dogs, and of course their insides if eaten.
This tends to be a busy time of year, the social diary sees a stream of visitors and well-wishers; Christmas fireworks aren’t uncommon either. For some pets, all this extra commotion can be stressful. If your cat or dog is worried about people in their home, or is scared of loud noises, laughter and if general merriment makes them nervous, ensure they have a safe haven to retreat to. A cosy, quiet den away from the party often helps.
It is perhaps best not to let cats outside if you fear they might not return. If there are excitable children around that your pet is not used to, keep everyone safe by not forcing a pet to spend time with them. After a party, do a good clean-up job too. It’s tempting to leave the tidying until the morning after a good do, but spare a thought for what your pet might get their noses into. Left-over alcohol can be a killer for pets, nuts and crisps can cause stomach upsets and party debris could be tempting toys for young pets.
So because we all want to enjoy a very merry Christmas (pets included) and, because it is a time of year associated with enough expense already, a little consideration can go a long way to keep your four-pawed family safe. If you’re ever in doubt, our out of hour service is available to advise night and day. Merry Christmas to one and all!