Who doesn’t love Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations? There is lots of good food and spending time with all your loved ones (especially the furry ones)! However with all the fun and happenings at this time of the year there are a few extra dangers that might confront your pet.
Grapes, Raisins and Sultanas
Did you know that grapes, raisins and sultanas can be toxic to your pet? They can cause renal failure, which can show up as vomiting, increased thirst and urination. So make sure you keep your fruitcake, pudding and mince pies out of your dog’s reach.
Chocolate is a big no no for pets, especially dark chocolate. Caffeine, as well as a compound called Theobromine, can cause tummy upsets and neurological and heart problems. So it’s essential that all chocolates are safely stored away. Also be cautious of boxes of chocolates as gifts as they can be placed under trees where dogs may find them!
- Human foods and Bones
Don’t feed your pet human foods especially the fat off roasts or bones as they can lead to pancreatitis (a very painful tummy upset) or obstructions from the bone shards. Other human foods that can be toxic to pets include avocado, macadamia nuts, onion, garlic and dairy products. Ensure any guests or children know not to feed your pets any tidbits!
All alcoholic drinks are very toxic to dogs and cats, so ensure all beverages are kept on a high table and packed away at the end of the evening. Signs you may see include vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In the worst cases it can lead to coma, seizures and death.
Christmas decorations such as tinsel, baubles and ribbon are such fun to play with pets (kitty cats particularly think so), but create a high risk for choking or being swallowed and causing intestinal obstruction. Ensure that your pet is supervised when playing around the Christmas tree and don’t put tinsel on your pet without strict supervision. Ensure that the cords for lights on your Christmas tree are out of your dog’s reach. Puppies in particular are always looking for something to chew and can be electrocuted if they chew through a cable. Christmas trees can also be dangerous as cats can climb and may fall or knock glass decorations down. Boisterous dogs have also been known to knock trees over, so ensure your tree is secure. If you have a live tree ensure your pet doesn’t drink any of the water in the pot as chemical additives and tree saps can be toxic.
Any presents left under the tree can be interesting for an inquisitive dog or cat so it’s important to keep them out of their reach! Don’t put ANY food presents under trees and be aware that many things can be chewed up before you even realise.
- Hot weather
Heat stress and stroke are much more likely as the temperature rises. Give your pet access to multiple water bowls (weigh them down with a brick if they like to paddle in them). Only exercise your pet in the early morning and late afternoon/evening; if it’s too hot for you to go for a run, it’s too hot for your dog. This is particularly important for brachycephalic breeds (i.e. pugs, bulldogs etc.). You can even consider getting a paddling pool for your pooch to sit in and cool off. Or you can make doggie ice-blocks by mixing some dog treats or food in water and freezing in an ice cream container. Never leave your dog in a car unsupervised even with the windows down as temperatures rise rapidly.
- Lily toxicity
Cat owners be careful if giving or receiving flowers, as lilies are toxic to cats and can lead to acute renal failure even after nibbling on a tiny piece of leaf. It is essential that cats never have access to these plants. If you suspect that your cat may have eaten any part of a lily then early treatment is essential to prevent permanent damage or death.
Fireworks can be particularly frightening for dogs, if you are leaving your dog home alone over New Year’s Eve there are a few things that can help ease their stress. Give them lots of exercise prior to leaving so they are worn out and sleepy. Leave them with a chew treat or stuffed Kong to distract them. Ensure they are well confined in a safe familiar space – preferably indoors. And make sure that their microchip and collar tag details are up to date (so if they do escape you can be contacted).
Christmas and the holiday period can cause a lot of upheaval to pets. New people, boisterous children and lots of family members visiting can lead to anxiety in some animals. Try and keep their normal routine as much as possible, especially in regards to exercise and walks. Give your pets a place to escape away from everyone if they are feeling overwhelmed. Supervise children very closely when playing with pets. Some children are unfamiliar with how to act – teach them to pat gently and calmly, never go near a dog who is eating or has a toy, teach them the signals that a dog is uncomfortable (backing away, whites of eyes showing, yawning, lip licking, growling) and finally ensure they let the dog be if they move away and don’t chase or follow the dog.