Many households across the UK have at least one pet, and thankfully most pets are well cared for by responsible, loving owners. Even so, there are occasionally things that even careful owners miss when taking care of their pets, and below are some useful reminders of things to keep an eye out for over the Christmas period.
But before we set out potential Christmas-related hazards please remember that there are plenty of animals that are not so well cared for, sadly, and these are often taken into shelters by the RSPCA. The RSPCA takes care of their physical and psychological needs before searching for new, forever homes for them.
Since Christmas is a time for giving and reflection, perhaps you could spare a thought for those animals that do not have a home this winter and perhaps consider making a donation of your time or money to help to support your local shelter or one of the projects that urgently needs support, listed on the RSPCA Choices site: http://choices.rspca.org.uk/
Turning your thoughts back to your own home and pets, take a look at this list of things to think about over Christmas as they might apply to your own circumstances. Some are hopefully things that you already know but others might just surprise you:
- Too much sodium can kill animals, so if you are going to give your pet some of your leftover Christmas dinner, make sure it isn’t covered in salt or gravy.
- Chocolate is poisonous to dogs: keep your tins of chocolate covered up and don’t put up chocolate tree decorations that your dog can reach.
Cocktail sticks can get eaten by dogs and cats and end up stuck in their throats or puncture their gut. Be careful what you serve and be careful where you keep party food and rubbish.
- Mesh that covers your roast meat is often hastily discarded after removing the joint from the oven. If it is left to lie in meat juices it can be gobbled up by cats or dogs when your back is turned. Mesh can cause severe damage to the gut and cause bloat, which is often fatal if medical attention is not sought immediately.
- Fir trees are poisonous to cats, and cats also like to bite and eat tinsel. Cats, dogs and small mammal pets can bite through wires so be sure to tuck your Christmas tree lights away safely.
- Holly, ivy, poinsettias and mistletoe are all poisonous to pets.
- Always supervise dogs with children – no matter how well you think you know your dog and trust it, over-excited children plus all the changes going on in your dog’s surroundings can make even a calm dog snap.
- Many vet practices are closed over the Christmas period. Before they close, make a note of their emergency service number in case you need it urgently.
Finally, remember that there undoubtedly will be fireworks let off on New Year’s Eve at midnight in your local area. If your pet is of a nervous disposition then make sure it is kept near you so that you can offer lots of reassurance, and bring all outdoor pets inside.