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Christmas Safety For Pets

By Dr Katrina Warren on November 17, 2010 in Other

Christmas is family time and for most of us our pets are part of family celebrations. Nearly all of my mates have a little something wrapped for their furry friend on Christmas day and include their pets in their festivities.

With all the hustle of preparation, and the joy of family and friends arriving, exchanging gifts and finally sitting down to enjoy festive fare and drinks, it is easy not to notice the mischief that the family pet might be getting up to.

With a little planning and supervision mishaps and mayhem can be avoided this Christmas.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

• There is nothing more enticing to a cat than a tree to climb, especially an easy-to-climb, symmetrical pine tree – plastic or real. The trouble is, Christmas trees were meant to have a star on top, not a 3kg cat, and both the cat and tree will likely come toppling over.

• Tree decorations are dangly toys to cats, and some dogs, so use unbreakable decorations rather than glass baubles. The glass used to make the baubles is very fine and splinters can be hard to remove from pads. If swallowed, the problem worsens.

• Tinsel is glittery and just begs to be played with. However, it is usually made of metal or plastic and can cause problems if swallowed.

• While Christmas lights are usually low voltage, it is best not to let your pet chew them – roast turkey is great, roast kitty is not.

• Gifts under the tree? What self-respecting dog could resist opening a gift or two? Not only will this wreck your gift giving, the contents of the gifts may be harmful to the dog. Chocolate, for example, is toxic to dogs so if you find that your dog has opened and helped himself to a Toblerone or two you must seek veterinary attention.

• Make sure that pets are securely confined when guests are arriving. If young children are visiting, supervise your pets at all times or confine them away from the children. Children can over-stimulate pets, especially at a time when the children themselves are likely to be over-excited. Also, guests sometimes neglect to shut gates and doors so make sure your pets are secure and cannot escape your property.

• Well-meaning guests often share their Christmas dinner with the dog, plus there is usually an abundance of leftovers. Rich food, or even just over-indulging, is just as bad for dogs as it is for us. If your pet shows any signs of discomfort or swelling of the abdomen seek veterinary attention urgently. Also, cooked bones can splinter and cause internal problems so avoid the temptation to give the bones from your roast to your pet. Finally, onions, both raw and cooked, are toxic to dogs, as are macadamia nuts.

During the festive season, remember to check on your pets and make sure that they are cool, comfortable and have plenty of fresh water (especially if it’s hot). Do this and you will all enjoy a very merry Christmas!

Dr Katrina is the host of Talk To The Animals, an animal behaviour show that airs on Channel 9 every Saturday at 4.30pm. For more pet care advice and pet friendly accommodation options please jump on to Dr Katrina’s fantastic website at