Christmas is with us again, a period for merriment, however it is also a dangerous time for both us and our beloved pets. I have tried to list my top tips to reduce the risks to our pets over Christmas. Our pet sitters are often asked for advice or notice potential dangers to pets at this time of year.
1. Your Christmas Tree
The most important this about this is ensuring that it is in a safe location and is firmly fixed. This pleasurable activity of putting it up with your kids, needs to be done in such a way that the cat, when it jumps up onto it, will not bring it down on to everyone. Animals and cats can be put out of joint at Christmas and can become scared and liable to do anything, with the crowds, with all the new sounds and smells. If you can avoid putting the tree close to furniture that will help the dog leap onto the tree. If possible and particularly if the tree is not the most stable, can you tie it to the wall and or ceiling with some wire. A temporary hook into the wall is a great safety feature. Weighting down the tree roots / stem to improve stability is another way of avoiding problems.
If it is a real tree, clean up the pine trees, not just because it looks nicer, but pets can eat them and this can make them sick. If you put water in the bucket holding, either avoid the chemicals that prolong life, or as they can be toxic, ensure your pet cannot drink this water.
2. Care with the Decorations
The most dangerous to young children and pets are the glass balls, why not buy yourself a safe painted wood or plastic version. Dogs that chew these can die. Some of the bright streamers can also be attractive to dogs, to chew and block the digestive tracts.
Avoid using hooks on fixing the ornaments to the trees, use string – it is far safer.
3. Electrical Dangers
Care with the electrical leads, man and beast can trip over them, bringing down what ever is attached. So use cable tidies, to put them out of harms way. Be extra careful if you have a dog or cat that is curious and if it chews. Keep things turned off if no one in the room, or shut the door.
4. Pet Behaviour
It is a time when, in principle you have a lot of free time, which is an opportunity to care for your pets, even start a pet training programme that you have been meaning to do. However you have many distractions, with a lot on and people coming and going.
It is important to have a rational understanding of the reliability of your pets. If in any doubt close the rooms with any potential danger to, or caused by pets.
Pet behaviour can become erratic at Christmas with the new sounds, smells and people. Pets are territorial and can see a lack of attention, their favourite spot taken by the tree and presents as a threat to their home. They are then more liable to change behaviour, cats become scatty and scared, they can even go off their food – even if you are offering them some nice Salmon or Turkey. Dogs can become aggressive, if they are not getting their exercise or too much attention to the visitors. A real risk even with very well trained and behaved dogs is the “bizarre” attacks on children and babies. Separate them if not being supervised carefully all the time. If you do not have the time for exercising the dog, book your dog walker for a few sessions over the period, though you may need to do this early as they are often busy doing pet sitting at Christmas.
5. Christmas Presents
Pets are intrigued by boxes, in sparkling colours and materials with lots of people showing attention. Be particularly careful if you have moved their bed to put the tree up and the presents around it. It is not unknown for dogs to take it out on the presents. The most dangerous consequence is often the digestion of string that can cause digestive blockages, resulting in a trip to the local veterinary clinic.
6. Food Dangers for Pets
It is always tempting to feed the pets some of the nice food that you have at Christmas. Do not give from the table, transfer to their normal food bowls at normal feeding times. It can take you the rest of the year to stop begging at the table, if it worked well at Christmas.
Be particularly careful with the seasonal dangers such as Mistletoe, Holly and Poinsettias which are particularly dangerous plants. Other dangers are things like onions that may be with your meat that could be given to the pet. Chocolate is also another risky treat for pets, as well as sugary products that are not part of a normal animals food. They can cause teeth problems and with 30-50% of dogs suffering from being over weight these calories should be avoided. For both of you, perhaps go for a dog walk, he would probably prefer it.
7. Home Safety
A good check of the house is worthwhile, our pet sitters, often identify risks and point them out to owners, such as live candles that could be knocked over by pets, especially dogs wagging tails.
I would advise Christmas tree lights to be turned off at night and when no human is present in the house.
If you can think of other useful Christmas tips, please let me know, so I can add and share
Our best wishes for a safe and Merry Christmas for you and your pets.
Denise and Steve
“I was very impressed by your pet care service, and by your thoughtfulness, thoroughness and professionalism. I found your standards of care and communication exceptionally high. I will certainly use your service again, and would happily recommend it to others.” Mrs C.W and Rordon, Bunty, Travis, Haemish and Teddy of Kensington