With Christmas fast approaching, many of us will be thinking of ways to include our pets in the festivities-especially if it is their first Christmas as a member of your family! However, Christmas can be a stressful time for pets due to changes to their regular routines and extra visitors to your home, plus some of our festive foods and decorations can be dangerous to our animals. So read our guide to how you can minimise any stress and keep your animals safe, so that they can enjoy the holiday season as much as you!
- Wherever possible, try to keep your pet’s routine as consistent as possible to help them feel secure.
- Don't force your pets to dress up in fancy dress as this may cause them distress and discomfort.
- When choosing decorations choose items that are non-toxic and avoid chocolate tree decorations as your dogs may well sniff them out and the temptation will be too great for them to resist-remember chocolate is poisonous to dogs and foil wrappings are not good for them either! Also keep cables for Christmas lights out of reach or invest in a cable guard; dogs, bunnies and even some cats are likely view exposed cables as a fun chew toy! It is safest to not allow your pet unsupervised access to your Christmas tree and decorations. Also beware of what gifts you leave under the tree…and if you’re wrapping up gifts to give to your pets, make sure wrapping paper is animal friendly (untreated with bleach, chlorine, glitter and dyes).
- On the subject of Christmas trees, make sure you vacuum regularly as those pesky pine needles can be very sharp and could cause injury to your pets, especially if ingested.
- Festive plants can also pose a risk to your pets-poinsettia, holly, ivy and mistletoe are toxic to animals and sensible all-year-round advice is to avoid having lilies in your home as these stunning looking blooms can be lethal, especially to cats- even if they simply brush against a lily, the dust from the stamen can get on their coats and, if ingested, can cause kidney failure.
- Similarly, some festive foods can also be dangerous for our pets. Turkey bones can be a choking hazard, and raisins and sultanas, found in many festive foods such as Christmas pudding and mince pies, can prove fatal for dogs.
- If you’re having guests over the festive period, do consider your pets. Make sure they have a quiet, cosy spot where they can get away from it all if they want to, with access to water, a bed and their toys. If you are taking your dog to visit friends or family be sure to take something familiar, such as their bed and toys to help them feel secure and keep them entertained.
- Be sure to supervise any interactions between your pets and children at all times.
- Make sure that visitors know to close doors, windows, gates etc to ensure your pet doesn’t escape.
- With small furries, make sure that any visitor’s animals are kept away from them and consider any extra noise in your home that may frighten them.
- If your pet is on medication, remember to stock up before the holiday period and make sure you have the number of an emergency vet to hand, just in case.
- If you are going away for the holidays remember to make adequate pet care arrangements – don’t leave them home alone for long periods and bear in mind things like fireworks that may spook them while you aren’t there.
While RSPCA Worcester are continuing to rehome animals during the month of December, we never condone animals being given as ‘gifts’. If you are thinking of getting a pet to join your family, no matter what the time of year, do your research and think about the right time to bring a new pet into your home (not when you are going to have lots of upheaval or are planning on going away on holiday etc). Once you’ve thought it all through and done your research, why not then consider giving a rescue animal a second chance? Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for animals searching for their forever homes all year round.
We hope that our guide has proved helpful and we would like to wish you and your furry friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.