Christmas Dangers to Our Pets

Photo: Sara McLoudrey

Photo: Sara McLoudrey

With the Christmas holidays just around the corner please consider how your festive celebrations may affect your pets, so we can all enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and New Year together.

Will you be spending your holidays at home or away?

  • Leaving your pets at home will require the help of a responsible (and sober!) friend or neighbor to visit, feed and care for them.
  • Don’t forget that seasonal plants such as holly, poinsettia, ivy and mistletoe are all extremely toxic so please think very carefully when you’re busy decking out your halls.

If you are staying local and hosting your own party, then please spare a thought for nervous pets with unfamiliar guests and when pulling crackers or popping party poppers; perhaps shut them securely in a quieter room with some soothing music, and check on them regularly. Always make them a priority; otherwise they may get scared, try to escape and perhaps never return.

  • Brightly-colored baubles and tantalizing tinsel are new and exciting objects for pets, who’ll most likely try to eat them and cause them all sorts of internal problems.
  • Properly securing any fragile glass decorations will make sure they’re kept out of reach at the top of your tree to avoid pets pulling them off, breaking them, or stepping on any sharp fragments.

Foodwise, there are hazards galore at this time of year. Most of you – I hope - will be well-aware that chocolate is extremely poisonous to both dogs and cats (rule: the darker the more deadly), and any suspect ingestion should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea and increased urination, progressing to seizures and sometimes even death.

  • Turkey bones can cause choking, constipation, as well as seriously damaging internal organs.
  • Make sure fairy lights and electric wires are ‘chew-proof’ from inquisitive puppies, kittens and even rabbits too.

Another common danger at this time of year is anti-freeze; extremely palatable to cats, it will cause irreversible kidney failure if your cat even just licks his paws after walking through a puddle of the stuff, so be warned and check all outside areas and garages today.

Of course you should never give pets as presents, but if you are seriously thinking about getting your own furry friend, then please visit your local rescue shelter in January, where sadly there’ll be plenty of healthy but confused new in-mates to choose from and adopt.

Finally, I’d like to wish all you and your pets a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year!


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Positively Expert: Marc Abraham

Marc Abraham is a small animal veterinarian based in Brighton, UK. He regularly appears on UK television, radio, and in print. He is the author of "Vet on Call" and "Pets in Need" and uses his media work to promote animal welfare. Marc was voted the UK's Favourite Vet.


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  1. Pingback: Christmas Dangers for Pets | Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, St. John's, NL

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