The Christmas season is now upon us with families and friends gathering for festive celebrations – pets included! This time of year is full of delicious food and fun but with the inevitable leftovers and sparkly decorations in reach of inquisitive paws, it can be a potentially hazardous and stressful time for our pets. Following on from the brilliant contributions to NOAH’s I Heart My Pet campaign this year from our fantastic partners at Cats Protection, PDSA and the RWAF, our experts have come together to give their top tips and advice to owners on how to keep pets happy and healthy through festive season and beyond. Here’s what they said:
Image sourced from Christmas Cracked
Keeping all pets safe this festive season
Katy Orton, Veterinary Campaigns Advisor (and Head Nurse) at PDSA:
“Christmas is a really busy time of year where our normal, daily schedules can completely change and many of us have lots of visitors and guests. For your pets, this can be a very confusing time and whilst some enjoy the excitement, others can struggle with strangers, noise and anything out of-the-ordinary. We recommend keeping walking and feeding schedules as normal as possible to minimise stress for your pets over Christmas. Make sure you are providing a safe, quiet area away from visitors where your pets can relax. Don’t forget to keep tempting foods out of paw’s reach too as many festive foods are poisonous to pets. Below is a list of common Christmas foods that you shouldn’t let your pets get their paws on:
- Fruit cake
- Mince pies
- Cooked bones
- General over-eating after raiding the bin!
If your pet eats any of these foods, you will need to call your vet for advice straightaway.
”Don’t forget, your Christmas decorations can cause serious health problems if they are eaten or chewed, and batteries from Christmas gifts can cause burns if chewed, and serious internal damage if swallowed. We want everyone to have a wonderful time this Christmas but remember to keep an eye on your pets and make sure they are kept safe.
Image sourced from thumbpress.com
Read more advice about keeping your pets safe at Christmas from NOAH’s veterinary experts here
Cat care at Christmas and beyond
Maggie Roberts, Director of Veterinary Services at Cats Protection:
“We advise owners to think twice before offering their cat a tasty titbit from the dining-room table as overfeeding can place strain on the joints and lead to health problems such as diabetes. The charity’s advice is to ensure that cats continue to follow a balanced diet throughout the festive period for the benefit of their long-term health.
“If you are thinking of offering your cat a treat:
ö Remember that cats normally appreciate attention or playtime with their owner more than titbits. If you are giving a food treat in addition to your cat’s meals, remember to limit the amount given so your cat doesn’t gain weight.
ö It is best to stick to specially produced cat food treats and avoid food intended for humans, such as chocolate which is toxic for cats (as well as dogs).
ö Avoid giving raw meat or table scraps - although a little bit of well-cooked fresh chicken or fish is fine.
Take a look at our pet-friendly-Christmas article for more detail on keeping all pets including cats safe throughout the festivities
Looking after rabbits during the festivities
Rae Todd, Chief Executive of the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:
“My advice for taking care of your rabbits over the festive season is two-fold. Firstly, as well as joy and festivities, this time of year can be very cold and making sure you are providing the right type of shelter and warmth for your rabbits is extremely important.
“Keep your rabbits warm. Remember rabbits need to exercise all year round, including winter, so protect their outdoor areas with tarpaulin to keep off the worst of the weather. If you have a garden shed, this would provide better protection against the cold weather than a hutch as well as giving them more space and making it easier for owners to interact with their rabbits.
“Straw is warmer than hay so make sure you are prepared with straw for your rabbit’s bedding and ensure that it is dust free and soft (so it can not cause injury to your rabbit’s eyes). Also make sure you keep their area dry or it will not be warm. I would even advise getting your rabbits a heat pad to keep them warm overnight, you can also put a water bowl on top of a heat pad to stop the water from freezing. Kit your rabbit’s shelter or shed-space out with extra warmth like lots of warm bedding and cardboard boxes full of straw. Remember to provide lots of hay for them to eat too! Rabbits need to eat hay all of the time, and if they don’t have enough they are likely to eat their warm bed so you must replace the straw and hay daily. More info on this and more is in our blog on the Rabbit Welfare website.
“My second piece of advice is about general safety: Holly and Ivy are poisonous and should be kept away from rabbits. Christmas trees may well have been sprayed with fire retardant so are also likely to be poisonous and rabbits need to be prevented from nibbling them. This goes for low hanging decorations and fairy light cables too! Fireworks are likely to go off on New Year’s Eve so take the relevant precautions – you will find some good advice here:
And finally, here’s a handy check-list of additional tips for your rabbit to make sure they stay happy and healthy all festive season and beyond:
- Don't change your rabbit’s diet suddenly over Christmas, they do not need treats and a change in diet could cause them to become very ill.
- Make sure you have your vet’s out of hours contact details in case your rabbits become ill over the festive period.
- Ensure the rabbits have a safe quiet area away from all of the excitement of Christmas. If they are outdoors this might be easier than if they are indoors, so give it plenty of thought in advance. Lots of noise and changes in environment can be stressful to them.
Image sourced from thumbpress.com
If you’re celebrating with your rabbit this Christmas, why not try your hand at making them a gift – details here
For more species-specific information on caring for your pet all year round, take a look at the advice on our site and visit our partners at:
In the meantime, we wish you all the best for the festive season and a happy and healthy 2017!