With winter in full swing and the countdown to family reunions well and truly on, Natures Menu reveals how our festive favourites can be hazardous to our furry friends.
Christmas trees and Christmas tree water
Whether real of artificial, Christmas trees can make a very attractive climbing frame or tuggy toy for inquisitive cats and dogs – be sure to place your tree somewhere stable where it can’t easily be accessed or knocked over by your pet, which could cause them injury. If you don’t position it out of reach, consider tethering it to the wall or a solid piece of furniture to prevent it topping over in the event that your cat decides to climb.
If you opt for a real Christmas tree this year, be aware that it could prove hazardous to your pet. Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic, as the fir tree oils can be an irritant to the mouth and stomach. However, the water that the trees sits it can be even more poisonous, so make sure that your cat or dog doesn’t mistake it for their drinking bowl by keeping the pot securely covered.
Hot Christmas Dinner
The smell of a roasted turkey left on the kitchen side can sometimes prove too tempting for even the best-behaved pets to ignore. They will do anything to get to it – including jumping up at hot hobs and burning their paw pads. Always make sure that your pets are kept well away from the kitchen to avoid any accidents.
While it might be tempting to feed your pet some leftovers during the festive season, treating them to rich human foods can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, or they could even end up requiring veterinary treatment. Make sure you dispose of leftovers well and keep them out of reach of your cat or dog, ensuring that they can’t access any dustbins. String used to secure meat joints for cooking also make a great tasting chase toy, so be sure these are disposed of safely.
Decorations made of plastic, paper or foil are of low toxicity, but may obstruct the stomach or pose a risk if chewed or swallowed. Fairy lights and other electrical wires can result in electrocution if chewed, so keep them out of reach of pets. Be wary of delicate glass baubles and decorations which can fall from the tree and shatter, cutting pads as your pets walk over the shards. Younger dogs may also be tempted to take a bite out of an attractive , dangling bauble which could result in cuts to the mouth and throat, so be sure to hang these in a separate room or well out of reach.
Christmas plants such as poinsettia, holly and ivy are all poisonous and can cause irritation to the mouth, resulting in an upset stomach and vomiting. The ivy used in wreaths and decorations is often of the Hedera species, which can cause irritation when there is prolonged skin contact.
Candles and oil burners
Lit candles, oil burners or wax melts can make a room feel cosy – however, we need to be cautious as pets are attracted to bright, flickering lights in a darkened room. Candles should always be kept out of reach of pets and you should never leave your cat or dog in a room alone with a lit candle.
We all enjoy a roaring fire when the temperatures drop outside and so do our pets, however both open and gas fires can give pets serious burns. To avoid your four-legged friend getting too close to the heat source, be sure to place a fire guard around it for safety.
Christmas can be busy and noisy time of the year, with usual routines being disrupted and big changes in the usual home environment, such as the moving of furniture to fit everyone in our new toys and games arriving. Cats and dogs can be very sensitive to change and may become stressed or frightened. Ensure that your pet has a safe, comfortable place to retreat, away from the hustle and bustle.
Provide a few warm cosy beds around the house so your pet can choose whether to be part of the fun or to have a nice snooze away somewhere quiet.
If your pet ventures outside on a cold, wintery day, be sure to check their paws when they return. Salt and grit from treated roads can irritate the skin and cause harm if ingested. Try to gently bathe their feet on return to encourage them to walk across a warm, wet towel.
Watch out for ice
Take care that your dog doesn’t lick cold or frozen surfaces. While dogs may like the sensation of cold on their tongues, some have been known to become stuck to objects, damaging their tongues severely or leading to ice burns in the mouth.
Melanie Sainsbury, Natures Menu veterinary nurse, said: “With the weather turning colder still and the Christmas celebrations set to truly begin on 23rd December, we must remember to keep our pets safe this winter. We hope that our top tips are useful for old and new pet owners, so that pets across the country are kept safe and happy.”