I’m a Pet expert – Here are Five Things to Avoid This Christmas

The party season is nearly upon us, but before you dust off your decorations and defrost the turkey, it’s important to be aware of potential dangers that could be putting your pet at risk this Christmas.

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, shares the toxic treats and decorative dangers to watch out for this festive season.

“Every Christmas we treat poorly pets at our PDSA Pet Hospitals who are suffering from illness and injuries that their owners just didn’t know could be caused by some of their yuletide traditions. I’d urge owners to be aware of the potential dangers that some of our festive favourites present to our furry family members.”

Here are Nina’s top tips for making sure your pet stays safe this Christmas:

  1. Deck the halls

Twinkly lights, glittery baubles, and tinsel are what give our homes a touch of festive magic, but they’re also tantalisingly tempting to curious paws. Should your furry family member get hold of a shiny adornment, they may smash it and cut themselves, or even mistake it for a tasty treat – potentially causing life-threatening blockages which require emergency treatment. Keep fairy lights well away from small furry friends’ enclosures too, to avoid them nibbling through the wires and giving themselves a shock. Many festive plants are also toxic to pets, so make sure they’re well out of paws’ reach.

  1. A tree-mendous occasion

Whether real or artificial, your cat may see your Christmas tree as the purr-fect climbing challenge. This could result in broken baubles and lots of mess at best, or an injured puss at worst, so always supervise them to avoid any mishaps.

Chocolate baubles are also a festive favourite but, if you own a pet, this is one tradition to leave out of your celebrations. Chocolate is toxic to our furry friends and hanging it on the tree makes it all too easy for them to have a little snack

  1. Santa Paws is coming to town

The thrill of opening presents may distract you from keeping a close eye on your furry friends, but there are several things to watch out for among the mountains of wrapping paper. Sticky tape, bows, ribbons, and string can be a choking hazard and cause internal blockages if swallowed by our precious pets. Take care to pick up any leftover wrapping or toy batteries and watch out for the beady eyes of soft toys, as these can cause serious problems for our pets if chewed up and swallowed.

  1. Festive food

Christmas dinner may be a highlight of the day for us but no matter how tempting, don’t give in to any purr-suasion. Not only can a sudden change in diet cause an upset stomach, some parts of our festive feast can also be highly toxic to pets, including onions, garlic, and mince pies. It’s also important to bear in mind potion sizes – a small dog breed, such as a Border Terrier, eating 4 pigs in blankets is the equivalent of a human eating an entire Christmas dinner with all the trimmings! So, sticking to healthy treats will prevent our pets from piling on the pounds.

  1. A jolly Christmas

The hustle and bustle of Christmas can become particularly overwhelming for furry family members, so it’s important to offer a safe space for them to escape the festivities. This could be a den you have built or even their regular bed in a quieter room. For smaller pets, moving their enclosure to a quiet space will give them some peace during busier periods.

It’s also easy to forget what day it is over the festive period, but remember that four-legged family members benefit from the consistency of a routine – whether that’s sticking to the usual time they go for a walk, or when you feed them.

For more information on how to safely enjoy the festive season with pets, you can visit: www.pdsa.org.uk/xmas-guide


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