Paws for thought and protect your pets at Christmas

West highland terrier on table with Christmas treats

As the festivities and Christmas parties get well under way, we’re reminding pet owners to be aware of the household hazards which could affect animals at this time of year.

Spinney Vet’s clinical director Iain Fletcher says the festive period can present a minefield of potential issues for pets, as homes are decorated and a range of food and drink is often accessible.

Among the items which present risks to pets at Christmas are ribbons on presents, tinsel, sharp tree needles, low-lying fairy lights, chestnuts and chocolates. Drink, too, can be dangerous and a traditional Christmas favourite, Baileys Irish Cream, can prove particularly dispiriting for animals.

Iain said: “Christmas and the associated festivities can present a bit of a minefield for pet owners. For example, dogs will drink most forms of alcohol left in glasses at Christmas parties, so people need to be wary of leaving glasses where their animals can get them.

“The signs of ethanol intoxication are similar to those in humans – vomiting, depression, a lack of co-ordination, disorientation and drowsiness. Dogs in these conditions need warmth, rehydration and immediate nursing care.”

Other festive items which could cause harm to animals include plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia, holly and ivy, which can all cause upset stomachs, while lilies can be very harmful to cats.

Other food items which should be on pet owners’ radars include grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas, which can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats, along with macadamia nuts, onions and mouldy foods such as walnuts, bread and cheese, which can all be harmful.

Iain said: “Christmas can often be a busy and quite chaotic time. You can help your pet cope with the chaos by keeping to their normal routine and if you are spending Christmas day with friends or family and your dog is going with you, take something which smells familiar to help them feel secure.

“We’d also recommend using a calming diffuser, as with fireworks celebrations.

“In terms of household hazards, while tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for your pet to play with, just make sure they don’t eat it!”

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