Spending Christmas with your pets

Want to find out how to enjoy Christmas and keep your pets safe at the same time? Here are a few things to watch out for

We all love to spend the holidays with our family including our pets but there are a few things you should be aware of that can put your pet’s health in danger. If you want to share a little treat from the table with your pet, be aware of the following foods. 

Foods to watch out for

Chocolate

Most people already know that chocolate is not safe for dogs but it’s also not safe for cats. In fact most animals can’t digest theobromine which is a chemical found in chocolate. Signs your furry friend may have accidentally eaten chocolate are vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased thirst and urination. Dogs will pant too. In the worst case animals can get tremors, seizures and die of heart failure. The symptoms can also take a few hours to develop. If your pet has eaten chocolate or you think they have, contact your veterinarian or the poison hotline in your country. Prevention is of course the key and be weary with small children as they can accidentally drop some chocolate and before you know it Fido has eaten it. 

Onion

Something you might not know is that onions, or any vegetable from the same family such as leaks and garlic, can cause digestive problems in pets. In worse cases it can lead to anemia by damaging red blood cells. So before you douse your pet’s food in gravy or give them some leftovers, you might want to check there are no onions in it. 

Bones

While we all think of the classic image of a dog gnawing on a bone, cooked bones are dangerous. Bones that are cooked become brittle and if you give them to your pet small pieces can break off. These splinters can pierce the digestive tract and cause internal bleeding. If you want to give your pet a meaty treat then make sure you remove all bones. 

Raisins

Dried fruits found in mince pies or Christmas pudding are highly toxic. Not just dried grapes but also other dried vine fruits such as currents and sultanas are dangerous. These dried fruits can cause severe kidney failure. 

Macadamia nuts

Peanut butter is okay to give dogs, provided it doesn’t contain the sweetener xylitol,but did you know macadamia nuts are not safe? While the mechanism of how they are toxic is unknown, they can cause muscle weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and tremors. 

Xylitol sweetener

Be cautious when giving your pet sweets, or other sweat foods, as they can contain the sweetener Xylitol which is toxic to pets. If you aren’t sure if a sweet contains xylitol then avoid giving it to your pet. A single sweet shouldn’t cause too much harm but it’s best not to let your pet eat too many as this can cause a spike in blood sugar and sweets are generally not a healthy food to feed dogs. 

Alcohol

I have experienced this personally, our past dog stole wine from a glass, luckily she only drank a small amount. Make sure your glass is out of reach of your pet. If you happen to spill alcohol then mop it up right away. A small amount might not harm them, in large quantities it can be toxic. Be aware that cats might try to drink cream based alcohol drinks such as Baileys. 

Foods they can eat

Should you want to give your furry friend some leftovers here is a list of pet safe foods: 

  • Carrots
  • Swede
  • Parsnips
  • Sprouts (though I wouldn’t recommend unless you can put up with the farts)
  • Green beans
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Potatoes provided they aren’t covered in butter of sauce
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Most meats and fish if the bones are removed.

If you aren’t sure then check online or avoid giving it to them. 

Other dangers around Christmas 

Batteries

The same goes for small children. Lots of toys contain batteries and if ingested then they can react with the saliva and burn the esophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach) and stomach. If your pet, or child, has swallowed a battery they need to go to the emergency vet (for pets) or emergency room (for children) right away! Always supervise children with toys in case the batteries fall out and never leave batteries laying around. 

Children’s toys

Toys can contain small parts or pieces small enough for a dog to swallow. They can get lodged in the digestive tract and it could be a very expensive Christmas if you have to pay for an operation for blockage to be removed. Again, as with batteries, supervise children and pets around toys. Or better yet, get your pet a toy to keep them entertained so they won’t want to chew children’s toys. 

Christmas trees

If you are using a real christmas tree then be careful your pet doesn’t digest the needles that fall from the tree. The needle can be sharp and get lodged in your pets digestive tract. They also contain an oil that causes stomach upset. To avoid this you could use a plastic tree or if you really want to use a real tree then try to choose a type of tree that doesn’t lose its needles as much. Make sure to sweep up any needles that do fall on the floor. 

Christmas plants

Mistletoe, ivy and poinsettias are just some of the plants we associate with Christmas. However, they are toxic to pets. Pot pourri is another item that is toxic. If you want to have these in the house then make sure to keep them out of your pet’s reach.

Christmas decorations

We love to decorate our houses and make them all christmassy, yet we also need to watch out with our pets. Ribbons and tinsel are tempting, especially for cats. Some pets will want to play with them and may swallow them causing a blockage in their digestive tract. Most cats are fascinated by baubles so opt for plastic ones. Not only will this prevent them from being broken if your cat decides to flick one off the tree, it will prevent bits of broken glass from getting stuck in your pets paws. Fairy lights are another decoration to watch out for. Pets can get caught up in them or chew them. As I have mentioned in most of the above cases, always supervise your pet or keep things out of reach. 

Stress

Yes, your pet can get stressed if there is a houseful of unfamiliar people or just too much going on. Dogs will often pant or yawn, and both cats and dogs will try to hide if things get too much. What can you do to give your pet a stress free holiday? Give them their own space. If your pet is getting overwhelmed then you can opt to move them to a quieter area of the house and provide them with bedding, food and water. Children are a joy to have around but your pet might not think so. They can be loud and might pull your pet around too much. Teach children to respect your pets and if need be, separate your pet. The same goes for other pets visiting your home. If your pet doesn’t get along with them then allow your pet their own private space. 

Final note

I hope you all enjoy the holidays and have a jolly merry time. Keep your pets safe this holiday season, and have a great New Year! 

From Soren, Zack and Lynx x

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