Christmas Pet Survival Guide

For many of us, the challenges of 2020 has meant Christmas has come even earlier this year. But our pets can find the festivities unsettling; so how can we make sure they enjoy the Christmas period as much as we do?

PDSA Veterinary Nurse Nina Downing said: “Christmas is a time for joy and cheer but it can also be busy, noisy and stressful. For some pets, the changes to routines and decorations can worry them. With a little planning though, we can help our furry friends enjoy the festive period too.”

Here are Nina’s top tips for a pet safe Christmas:

Decorations

Dangling baubles, shiny tinsel and flashing fairy lights can all be very tempting to play with. Dogs explore things with their mouths, so it’s easy for them to nibble, break or even swallow decorations. Our beautifully decorated Christmas trees also make a tempting climbing frame for cats, full of fun items to play with, but all this fun and play can lead to injuries should they fall or break decorations. And for both dogs and cats, a decoration that gets swallowed could lead to a dangerous gut blockage, especially decorations like tinsel or small baubles. It’s best to keep pets out of harm’s way while you decorate your home and not leave pets unsupervised with your decorations once they’re up.

Presents

Having a present or two under the Christmas tree to spoil our pets can be a wonderful way of making sure pets can enjoy the festivities. New toys rather than food presents can be much better for their waistlines, to avoid them piling on unnecessary pounds. Toys are also a great way to bond with your pet and playing can help keep them entertained. It’s also important to think about any presents for you or your family that might contain something tasty that could be toxic to your pet (like chocolate) and make sure your pet doesn’t unwrap them for themselves!

Christmas Food

It can be tempting to spoil our pets with delicious Christmas foods but be aware that some human foods can cause some serious health issues in pets. Some pets have very sensitive stomachs, so any change to their diet, especially including rich food, can lead to sickness, diarrhoea or even pancreatitis.

Some festive foods can be highly toxic to pets, such as mince pies and Christmas pudding, because they contain raisins and sultanas. Chocolate is also poisonous to pets, so make sure they’re kept out of paw’s reach! You’ll need to be extra vigilant with any chocolate presents under or on the tree too in the run up to Christmas.

While a slice of lean turkey on Christmas Day is a nice treat, 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!

Noise

Christmas can be a noisy time so creating a den can be ideal to allow dogs to hide in a quiet room in case they want a bit of time to themselves. Cats feel safest when they’re high up, so give them a cosy place to curl up on top of a secure shelf or cupboard.

If your pet gets particularly worried, pheromones (calming scents that pets can smell but are undetectable to humans) can help keep pets relaxed so they can enjoy the festivities – ask at your local vet practice for advice.

Download your free Christmas survival guide at www.pdsa.org.uk/xmasguide.

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. www.pdsa.org.uk

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