Planning the Purr-fect Christmas
PDSA’s top tips to keep pets safe
Many animal lovers appreciate that Christmas is not a good time to take on a new pet. But how can we make sure our existing pets have a happy Christmas too?
PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan gives her top tips.
“Pets have no understanding of Christmas and the excitement that it can bring. Routines change, decorations spring up from nowhere and an influx of noisy guests arrive without warning, making Christmas a potentially stressful time for our pets. But with a little planning, we can help our furry friends enjoy the festive period too.”
One of the first signs of Christmas, shiny decorations and lights can be irresistible to inquisitive pets who may nibble or break them as they explore, causing serious injury or the need for emergency surgery if swallowed. Christmas trees can also make a tempting climbing frame for cats, leading to injuries due to falls and toppled trees so keep them out of the room with the tree when you are not there to supervise.
Lots of us like to spoil our pets over the festive season with a present or two. You might even find that it’s the wrapping paper or the box that they enjoy playing with, rather than their new toys! Pets are often attracted to things that are new and interesting, especially if they make an unusual sound or have an unfamiliar texture. As long as they are safe, this can provide excellent mental stimulation.
Treating your pets to new toys at Christmas is preferable to food presents, which can pile on unnecessary pounds. Toys are also a great way to bond with your pet and playing can help stave off boredom for your pet too.
Ferrets, rabbits and guinea pigs will all enjoy tunnels to explore and might like to demolish that cardboard box you were thinking of recycling. Mice and rats like to explore and forage, so kitchen roll tubes and cardboard boxes are ideal.
Chocolate is a major cause of poisoning cases in pets at Christmas, so make sure you don’t leave any dangerous gifts under the tree. Mince pies and Christmas pudding contain raisins and sultanas which are toxic to pets, while big dinners and fatty foods can cause upset tummies. A sliver of lean turkey on Christmas day is a nice treat, but it’s best to otherwise stick to your pet’s normal diet over the festive period, even if they do look at you with puppy eyes!
Noisy house guests, parties, and family gatherings can cause even sociable pets to become confused or over-excited and can be a source of stress. Make sure your pet has a quiet den that they can retreat to if things get too much. Prepare this now and give them healthy treats when they are relaxed in their den so they build up positive associations with the area. Pheromones (calming scents that pets can smell but are undetectable to humans) can help keep pets calm too – ask at your local vet practice for advice.
Download your free Christmas Survival Guide at www.pdsa.org.uk/xmas-survival-guide.
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.