The festive season should always be an exciting time for all of us but please remember to consider the health and happiness of your four-legged family members too, being aware of, and avoiding, any potential seasonal hazards.
A perfect example of one such hidden danger is harmless-looking shiny, sparkly, tinsel. Easily ingested by playful pups and curious kittens tinsel can become tangled up in their intestines, often requiring major (and expensive) surgery to fix. Fairy-light wires may also be seen as fun toys but can cause shocks and burns to inquisitive pets, especially young animals including house rabbits.
When dressing the Christmas tree fragile glass baubles must hang safely well out of reach of your pet as if they are disturbed and fall, broken fragments are likely to get stuck in paws and pads causing pain, infection risk, and an unplanned trip to the emergency vet.
Never offer your dog chocolate, in fact keep any chocolate (including wrapped presents containing chocolate) well away from pets, as it contains poisonous theobromine which can kill if ingested in sufficient quantities, especially dark chocolate.
Any grapes or raisins (including fruit cake, mince pies, etc) must also be kept strictly off your pet's festive menu as they can result in fatal kidney problems. The same goes for onions (or anything containing them), with turkey carcasses and bones bagged-up responsibly then safely disposed of and certainly not fed to your pet, as if swallowed can cause life-threatening intestinal perforation or obstruction, constipation, even pancreatitis.
Accidental ingestion of popular Christmas plants e.g. holly, ivy, poinsettia, lilies, and mistletoe can also cause serious toxicity to your pets. Antifreeze, which is extremely palatable to pets and often kept in garages and outbuildings, must be kept safely away from harm too, as spillages can often result in pets licking it off their paws, which can kill even with just tiny amounts consumed.
Make sure pets are always respected when unfamiliar guests are visiting during the holidays, as their normal routines will be upset. In particular please warn strangers (especially young children) about how to approach your pet correctly, if at all, thus helping to prevent any unforeseen bites or scratches.
When spoiling your pet rotten with gifts and hugs spare a thought for lonely rescue animals spending Christmas behind bars in your local rehoming centre without a happy, excited family fussing over them. Why not make a donation, either sponsor or give the gift of sponsorship, or drop off some old blankets, food, treats, newspapers, or even toys?
Finally, never give any pet as a Christmas present as most puppies and kittens on sale at this time of year have been irresponsibly bred; please wait until New Year to contact a responsible breeder (where you'll always see puppy interacting with its mum), or better still make your New Year's resolution to save a life by adopting a rescue pet instead.
Happy and safe Christmas to you and your pets!