“One of the most hazardous times of the year” A song by most veterinary practices
The festive season truly is a wonderful time of year; however, it can be a very confusing and hazardous time for our pets. Here are some tips and tricks to keep them safe over Christmas and the rest of Winter…
Many of us love to decorate our homes with all the trimmings, it is important to keep decorations out of reach of curious pets. Christmas trees can be very appealing to cats in particular (let’s face it, it looks like a giant cat toy…) as many will try to climb them, swat off baubles, and generally have a good time with them. If your feline friend is trying to climb the tree tethering it to the wall can be a good option. Watch them carefully to ensure they do not become tangled in any fairy lights and tinsel, if you have an avid tree climber avoid tinsel and fairy lights all together as cats can cause serious damage to themselves (or worse…) after becoming tangled. Instead of glass baubles buy some shatter proof plastic to avoid cut pads. Strongly encourage your pets to play with a variety of species appropriate toys instead, buying your cat a tall and sturdy cat tree, may encourage them to climb that instead of your tree, especially when coated in cat nip or apply some “Feliscratch” by Feliway to the posts.
Thin wires from light up decorations can be appealing to small furries, puppies and kittens… again tethering wires down along the ground or wall, can often minimise their appeal. However, some will be extremely determined…so spray them in a bitter apple spray, or cover them with a thick wire covering to reduce the risk of electric shocks.
Do not let your pet consume any tinsel, or ribbons/strings of tinsel as this can get caught in the digestive tract and cause a blockage. If you can see strands emerging from the bottom area (to put it nicely…) do not be tempted to pull it, as this could cause internal injuries. Instead, contact your vet immediately.
- Food and treats:
At this time of year there are many delicious treats available however, most of them are very bad for our pets. Foods to watch out for: Mince pies, cakes (or anything that contains raisins & grapes), chocolates, Christmas pudding, sage and onion stuffing, onion gravy, bones from carcasses, and of course alcohol… Avoid feeding any left-over dinners as most human food can be very rich, this can often lead to vomiting and diarrhoea.
Be extra careful with gifts which may contain candy or chocolates. Many people make the mistake of wrapping boxes of chocolates and putting them under the tree, our animals have brilliant noses… They may unwrap and consume them before you have a chance to do so! Keep them out of reach and out of sight.
The RSPCA have wonderful advice and videos on making festive treats, and what is safe for your pets during the festive season:
- Seasonal flowers & Trees
Many of which are beautiful but care must be taken to avoid poisonings. The oils in Fir trees , Spruces, and Pines can cause digestive upsets, do not let your animals chew on the needles or drink from tree water. Other flowers which can be highly toxic to cats are Lilies, Amaryllis, Poinsettia, Holly, Mistletoe, and Snowdrops.
- Festive Parties
The festive season is a very exciting time for us, however, it can be a distressing time for your pets! Always provide a safe place for them to be able to retreat to where they will not be disturbed, away from guests and excitable children. Such as a separate room, or crate, make sure you provide food, water and a warm bed.
Keep an eye on your pets for signs of stress, with dogs this includes; panting, excessive yawning, avoidance behaviour, licking lips, drooling, pinned back ears, physical shaking, raised lips and growling.
With cats: physical shaking, being very quiet, actively trying to hide, tail tucked close to their body, licking lips, pinned back ears, yowling, hissing and striking out.
All animals are creatures of habit, they develop their own routines and can become distressed when this is changed, or faced with a large group of people. Please keep this in mind when hosting parties, and ensure they have an “exit route” if needed. Bring in any outdoor animals to an area of the house they will be kept warm and away from fireworks, and loud music.
- Some final winter advice:
– Keep dogs without a double coat warm on walks with a pet jacket, try to buy one with reflectors sown on so they are visible to traffic, and people that are passing by.
– Wash all paws after a walk, salt grit can be very irritating if left on skin.
– Keep dogs away from frozen open water as many will not realise the dangers and fall in if the ice is thin. Take care on other slippery surfaces as they can fall and injure themselves.
– Take extreme care around antifreeze, it does smell and taste sweet to felines so they will drink it. Ensure any spillages are thoroughly cleaned up, and the bottle is kept out of reach. Antifreeze is highly toxic, if you suspect poisoning do not hesitate in seeking veterinary help, as they will deteriorate quickly. If fur is covered place on a buster collar to stop immediate grooming.
– Bring small furries into a secure shed, garage or indoor room (away from a radiator) to protect them from extreme cold. If you cannot bring them away from the cold outdoors, always provide fresh and dry bedding, or else it could freeze. Insulate water bottles so they cannot freeze. Clean hutches regularly to stop damp, provide extra blankets, and shavings/hay/straw for extra insulation. Provide a heat pad such as a snuggle safe and monitor to ensure it is not chewed. Raise hutches/living quarters off the ground, to stop the base from becoming too cold or wet. Cover at night to keep in heat.
We wish you all a very Safe and Merry Christmas! From all at Emscote Vets xxx