We all want to enjoy our festive time with our families and these guidelines are here to help us all ensure that Christmas goes smoothly without any upsets to either us or our beloved furry pets. These guidelines apply to dogs, cats and all small pets.

Lots of owners like to treat their pets at Christmas but too much rich food can upset their digestive system. Never give alcohol or chocolate, as they are toxic and can poison your pet. Bones can cause bowel blockages and stomach upsets.  

Loud music and crackers being pulled may be our idea of fun, but they distress our pets and can cause physical pain to their delicate ears. Provide your pet with a comfortable bed in a quiet part of the house where it can retreat. Put a bowl of food and water and some favourite toys nearby too.

Never give a pet as a present. Even if the new owner wants it, Christmas isn’t the ideal time to settle a new animal into the household.

 Keep your animal’s routine the same – feed and exercise your pet at its normal times.

Deck the halls … but hang Christmas decorations well out of your pet‘s way, as they can cause serious blockages if chewed. All things bright and shiny are like magnets to a cat so keep fragile baubles up on higher branches of the tree and don’t leave tinsel and ribbons lying around.

No matter how stunning your Christmas fairy looks, your cat will think he’ll look better at the top of the tree instead! So ensure the tree is safely fixed so that an adventurous cat can’t come to any harm. 

Make sure that you keep Christmas plants well away from your pets. Your cat can suffer kidney failure if he decides to nibble the lilies. Day lilies, Easter lilies and tiger lilies are all highly toxic to cats, and holly berries, mistletoe, ivy and poinsettias can cause diarrhoea and abdominal pains. Christmas tree needles can get in pets’ eyes.

If you are going away over Christmas, make arrangements for the care of your pet as soon as possible. Ensure that the carer has the number for your vet and a contact number for you.

If your pet is on any medication, make sure that you have enough for the Christmas period.

Remember the feral cats and dogs that spend their time living outdoors. The winter months can produce slim pickings so don’t forget to leave food out for them. Ensure that water bowls haven’t frozen over so that they are not able to get a drink. And don’t forget the birds, too. Throw out crumbs and bread for them as well, and hang up fat balls and containers of peanuts for them.

Remember all vets are available for advice over Christmas. If you have any problems, phone your vet. Listen carefully to answer machine messages and use an emergency number if necessary.

The best present you can give your pets this Christmas is plenty of love. Don’t forget them while you’re having a good time with the family and friends – remember to include them for cuddles and don’t forget to take the dog out for a long walk – you could combine it with a family walk after dinner – to walk off those extra calories you’ve just consumed!

Some extracts are from The Blue Cross ‘Blue Print’ magazine winter 2003

Five Good Reasons for Having Your Cat Neutered

  • Reduces fighting, injury and noise
  • Reduces spraying and smelling
  • Much less likely to wander and get lost
  • Safer from diseases like feline AIDS, mammary tumours and feline leukaemia
  • Reduces the number of unwanted kittens

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