Christmas & Our Pets

21st December 2023

As we move into the winter months, there are lots of exciting times ahead, however, while we're busy getting wrapped up in the festive fun, we may forget to think about the effect it can have on our pets - and on other animals, too.

Help your dog prepare for the festive season.

Winter is the most wonderful time of year for many. But the sights, sounds and smells of the many celebrations can be a sensory overload to your dog.From unexpected visitors to over-zealous family members – there is a lot for your dog (and you!) to cope with. 

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On the days you're having guests over, it's important to stick to your daily routine of mealtimes and exercise as much as possible.

If you've kept to your normal routine, then chances are your dog will be nice and relaxed by the time they arrive. You can also help your dog to stay calm by giving them a distraction when your guests first arrive, like a long-lasting food release treat or a chew. 

If children are coming who aren't used to being around dogs (or your dog isn't used to children), have a chat with the family beforehand to make sure the children understand how to behave around dogs.

Top tip: Encourage children to be calm and not approach the dog when the dog is eating or sleeping. And remember, never leave a child alone with a dog. Find out more about how to keep children safe around dogs. 

The Dog’s Trust have more help and advice on their website

Festive food for your pets.

Christmas is great! There are presents, fantastic food and we get to spend time with family and friends. But did you know that Christmas food can be dangerous for your pets? 

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Festive food can be poisonous to pets:

Festive food is delicious to us, but to our pets, much of it is highly toxic and dangerous. 

Avoid giving your pets these foods as treats as it can make them unwell:

  • Chocolate
  • Mince pies
  • Christmas pudding
  • Onion gravy
  • Alcohol
  • Bones from carcasses - these are a dangerous choking hazar

What Christmas food can pets eat?

Skinless and boneless white meat such as turkey is okay for dogs and cats, but be careful that it's not covered in fat, salt or gravy. It's best for your pets to stick to their normal food.

Cats and Christmas

Most of us look forward to the festive period; the food, the guests, the tree and decorations. However, for cats, Christmas may be a time of stress and risk of injury. As a species they enjoy routine and are sensitive to changes in their environment, making the celebrations challenging. In addition, the season means certain toxic plants and food may be accessible to curious cats.

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In addition, many cat owners have had the experience of their cat climbing the Christmas tree and it falling over. Usually, both are unharmed but it is worth considering securing the tree to avoid this. Injuries are reported from falling from Christmas trees and from the resulting smashed baubles, with glass ones particularly sharp when broken. Chewing of lights and wires can also be a problem, especially for nosy kittens and it is not uncommon for cats to pass urine just where you don’t want them to i.e. the tree, potentially a problem if electric plugs and wires are exposed.

International Cat Care has some further great advice on Christmas safety for your cats:

Let’s not forget our smaller friends too!

The Christmas period can sometimes be a little stressful for small animals due to the changes in routine, noise and general hustle and bustle. 

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It may be tempting to include your small pet in all the festivities by letting them explore the house during the days leading up to Christmas day but, if you do decide to do this, extra precautions will be necessary to keep your pet safe.

Christmas tree lights are particularly hazardous, as they are extremely tempting for small pets to chew. So always make sure you use cable protectors, and ensure these wires are out of harm’s way before you allow your pet to roam around. 

Pine needles from the Christmas tree can also be a hazard for small animals, as they can be very spiky, meaning they can become lodged in tiny paws. Similarly, broken ornaments and baubles may also cause injury to your pet’s feet, so always make sure anything sharp on the floor is quickly identified and cleared away. 

Presents can also be awfully tempting for your pet to gnaw on, so it’s important they are kept away from small pets. If there’s a lot of festive fun going on in the house, it may be safest to let your pet exercise in a small enclosure, so that they can still stretch their legs and explore but can’t chew on anything they shouldn’t!

For more tips and advice 

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