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14 Christmas Hazards Every Pet Owner Should Look Out For

Monday December 19th 2016

1. Never feed your pet leftovers

Christmas is synonymous with over-indulging, however many of the festive foods you and your family love to enjoy are potentially harmful for your pets.

If you’re feeding your pet leftover turkey, be careful with the way you prepare it as bones or gristle could cause your furry family member to choke.

Onions, like the ones used in gravy or in stuffing, contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is actually poisonous for cats and dogs and can also cause blood abnormalities in rabbits.

Grapes are also toxic for pets and can cause serious health problems if eaten so you need to steer clear of any foods that contain grapes or raisins, such as in mince pies or Christmas pudding.

2. Christmas trees

The pine needles on real Christmas trees may give off a festive aroma in your home, but they can be dangerous for pets. They’re mildly toxic for dogs and cats and the pesticides and chemicals used to keep the needles attached can be very harmful for all animals.

Having an artificial tree does not make life any easier and you will still need to be extra vigilant. Any plastic or aluminium that breaks off or is chewed by your pet can cause intestinal blockage or mouth irritation if ingested.

Christmas trees – whether real or artificial – are also a huge temptation to pets and you need to be careful that your pet doesn’t try to climb it, steal the decorations or knock it over and get injured in the process.

3. Tinsel and baubles

The allure of shiny decorations is just too much for some animals, and they can be known to ingest glittering tinsel or glass from broken baubles, resulting in an impromptu trip to the vets.

4. Sweet treats

Chocolate is actually poisonous for pets, such as rabbits, cats and dogs. Often it contains theobromine which is toxic for animals and can cause seizures, irregular heartbeat or internal bleeding.

Never feed your animal chocolate and keep edible chocolate decorations – like the ones you hang on trees – out of your pet’s reach.

5. Festive plants

The leaves and berries of holly and mistletoe have high toxicity levels and if your pet nibbles on them then it’s likely to suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea, as well excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.

Poinsettias are also famous for being poisonous, though are not as dangerous as their reputation suggests. However, the sap from these brightly-coloured plants will still cause irritation to the mouth and throat and so should be placed out of reach.

6. Christmas lights

Nothing says Christmas like the twinkling of sparkly lights, but this means more electrical wires for your pet’s taking.

Chewing cables could spell a nasty shock for your poor, unsuspecting pet. In the best case, an electric shock is unpleasant, but in the worst case it could prove fatal.
Position lights high up and obstruct access to wires with furniture or cable covers.

7. Wrapping

Though any type of gift wrap can potentially be harmful if swallowed by your family pet, ribbons, string and unwound gift bows can cause a particular problem if they end up wound round the animal’s intestine instead of passing right through them.

8. Candles

Who doesn’t love the sweet aroma and warm glow of a festive candle over the Christmas period? The festive period wouldn’t be the same without the scent of cinnamon or gingerbread, but you need to make sure your pets are protected against burning flames.
Keep candles out of your pet’s reach and never leave an open flame unattended.

9. Presents

While gift-giving is one of the major joys of Christmas, (obviously after food and spending time with your loved ones), you do need to keep on top of the type of gifts that are being opened in case they pose potential dangers for your furry friends.

Toys and gadgets – especially those with wires or batteries – should be kept out of harm’s way when they’re not being used. Animals love to chew wires which could cause a nasty shock, while ingesting batteries, however small, can cause serious conditions, such as stomach ulcers or necrosis.

10. Constant visitors

If you are going out or expecting visitors, exercise your pet before anyone arrives. That way, they will feel rested and more inclined to nap once the celebrations begin.
Even the most sociable of pets will need a break from all the excitement, or they can become stressed and anxious.

Your indoor pet can also get out if visitors leave the door open so be sure to keep an eye on your animals or put them in a safe space if you know you’re expecting guests over.

11. Alcohol

As in humans, if your pet drinks alcohol then it can cause
depression of its central nervous system
which in some cases can result in their breathing and heart rates slowing. Make sure you always keep drinks out of the way of your pets and put your fluffy family member in a safe space during Christmas parties.

12. Exposure to the cold

The fun and frolics of the festivities can sometimes be a distraction from your pet-owner responsibilities and so it’s important to make sure you check on your pet regularly and make sure it’s not suffering from undue exposure to the cold.

Rabbit hutches should be properly insulated with clean bedding, or brought inside, and cats and dogs should not be left outdoors for long periods.

13. Road salt and anti-freeze

Measures to ward off the cold weather, such as salt on paths and roads, act as a paw irritant that can be poisonous if licked off.

14. Rubbish

The smell of discarded food in the bin could prompt your four-legged friend to go rummaging. As well as the danger of them eating bones or foods that are poisonous, they could also hurt themselves on open tins or sharp objects. It may be cold outside, but don’t forget to put out the rubbish.

If your pet suffers any symptoms of illness or injury over the festive period then you should contact your vet immediately.