November 21, 2023
Christmas should be fun for everyone, and that includes your furry friends! But while you may want your dog or cat to be a part of the celebrations, it’s also important to be aware of the fact that during Christmas time there are increased risks for your pet’s health and safety.
In this article, we outline a few of the hidden dangers for pets associated with Christmas festivities, and how you can prevent them from harming your precious pup or kitty.
CHOOSE YOUR DECORATIONS CAREFULLY
As we all know, pets can become a little obsessed with getting their paws on shiny new decorations. Things that twinkle and move especially seem to attract cats, so it’s critical that you keep your pet’s temperament in mind when choosing Christmas decorations for your home. Try and hang things like lights, garlands and baubles out of reach of your pet’s swinging paws or excitable tail. Be aware of electrical wires connecting to plugs and try and block these off so your pet cannot access them, as chewing on leads can cause electrocution.
When considering the craftiness of your feline friend in regards to your Christmas tree, there are several ways that you can deter them from wreaking havoc. Try spraying citrus water or citronella diluted in water on and around your tree. Cats hate these smells, and it’ll assist in keeping them away. Hang decorations only on the top branches and try and keep your tree in a relatively open space, away from chairs and other furniture that your cat can propel itself from. And steer clear of tinsel! It’s like cat kryptonite.
Furthermore, monitor any flowers that you or your guests may bring into your home. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats and ingesting Brunfelsia from nightshade flowers will cause your dog to become very ill.
BE AWARE OF WHAT’S UNDER YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE
We all love the image of our Christmas tree standing over a big pile of colourful presents for the whole family. But it’s vital that presents containing food are not left under the tree, attracting inquisitive sniffs from our furry friends. Chocolates are a pretty common Christmas gift for humans, and will most certainly draw the attention of your furry friend should they appear within nuzzling distance. And don’t think wrapping paper will keep your dog from breaking into the carefully taped present! Rich foods like chocolate are a hazard to your pet’s health, so let everyone in the family know that pressies containing edibles should be kept elsewhere to keep little noses out from under the tree.
CREATE A QUIET SPACE FOR YOUR PET
Pets can become stressed or anxious when changes are made to their daily routines. This may include having lots of additional people at your house if you’re hosting a Christmas meal or gathering. Make sure you create an easily accessible chillout space for your pets, away from the noise of the festivities and crowded rooms of people. Perhaps set up their daybed and a few of their toys in one of their favourite places. This way, if it all gets a bit much, they can simply slink away for a little quiet time. The last thing you want is for your usually friendly and gentle pet to become snappy and impatient from too much attention, especially if there are small children around.
HAVE SPECIAL PET TREATS ON HAND
You and your guests may be tempted to succumb to those adorable pleading puppy eyes and feed your dog scraps from the table after a Christmas meal. However, rich and fatty foods can cause your pet to have an upset tummy, resulting in diarrhoea and vomiting. It’s likely that most roast meats in your festive feast will be marinated with either garlic or onions, which are terrible for your pet’s health. It’s best to try and stick to their usual food for meals during this time. But your pooch deserves a little festive treat too! You might like to pick up an extra pack of their favourite dried meat chews or make them a few delicious icy treats that will keep them hydrated and occupied. Alternatively, you could grab a couple of raw lamb shanks from the butchers to give to your dog and prepare some plain cooked chicken for your cat to eat while you and the family are busy getting stuck into your Christmas meal. That way, everyone has a tasty dinner!
REMEMBER TO KEEP THEM COOL
You may choose to keep your dog or cat outside or in areas of the house that are not air-conditioned while you have guests. If this is the case, make sure you check in on your pet often. Remember to top up their water bowl and provide shady spaces for them to relax in. Australian Christmases are usually hot and heatstroke is all too common for domestic animals. Let them sprawl out on the cool laundry tiles or fill up the paddling pool in the backyard so your dog can go for a splash when he or she needs to.
ESTABLISH GUEST ETIQUETTE EXPECTATIONS
Lastly, don’t be afraid to establish guest etiquette rules concerning your pets. If your dog or cat is not used to the attention of small children, this can be upsetting and stressful for them. Ask your friends and family to ensure that their children play gently with your pet. Alternatively, consider separating your dog or cat from the crowd if you are unsure how they will react around so many people and when you are too busy being a host to monitor them closely. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when the welfare of both your pets and your friends and family are concerned! Christmas can make us all a little stressed at times, and this is true for your pets too. In between wining and dining your guests, take a little time to give your furry friend a reassuring pat and check that they’re cool, comfortable and relaxed.
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