Christmas is fast approaching, so here are some top tips to make sure your pets enjoy the festive season as much as you do throughout the 12 Days Of Christmas.
On the 1st day of Christmas: Have a brilliant day! But remember your idea of a great day and that of your pet may not be the same. Many Christmas treats are poisonous to our pets – but very, very tempting….so keep sharp eyed that your dog does not steal the chocolate or Christmas pud. Chocolate can be fatal to dogs in even quite small quantities. Raisins and grapes are highly toxic too, as are nuts, particularly walnuts and macademia nuts. One of the most common call-outs for vets over the festive season is for pets with stomach upsets. A small amount of turkey meat would be just fine as an extra treat – but equally appreciated would be some extra play time and for your dog, an after lunch walk!
On the 2nd day of Christmas: Your pets will love the extra fuss and play and holidays bring, but make sure there’s somewhere calm that they can take themselves off to, for some peace and quiet. They really do appreciate eating and exercise to be as normal as possible. Set aside a quiet room for them and reassure them with a bit of stroke or a hug every once in a while.
On the 3rd day of Christmas: Sick of festive leftovers? While you look up 100 ways to curry turkey to get the last meal made, don’t give your turkey or chicken bones to your dog! Turkey bones—whether they have meat on them or not—can be dangerous. Any sharp point on a bone can scrape and cut, or even perforate your dog's gastrointestinal tract from the oesophagus down to the rectum, causing damage on its way in or out. Bones can also get stuck and cause a blockage that does not allow food to pass. Any concerns – call your vet.
On the 4th day of Christmas: Why not blow away the cobwebs and help the heavy festive head and full tum with a fabulous walk. Why not arrange to meet up with friends? It’s a great way for you and your dog to get some much needed exercise and fresh air.
On the 5th day of Christmas: The sales are in full swing, and while you can find great bargains for your pets to play with and to sleep on, it’s important not to try to cut corners with your pets’ health. Make sure you buy any medicines from a legitimate source, such as your vet, a pet shop, country store or pharmacy. There are many online sites for buying medicines but you need to be confident it’s a legitimate site, such as one accredited by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), to be sure that what you are getting is a properly authorised medicine.
On the 6th day of Christmas: Guests coming for the New Year or getting ready for a house party? Some people may not be as familiar with how to act around a pet as you are. Make sure everyone is briefed to ensure doors are kept shut and to cover all escape routes, and don’t forget the importance of some calm space for your pet. From April 2016 dogs in England will need to be microchipped by law: why not get this done early to help ensure that should your dog escape, you will be reunited.
On the 7th day of Christmas: New Year’s Eve! But it’s not necessarily such a great night for our pets. There are likely to be fireworks and party poppers that can scare them. Follow our fireworks tips on how to keep your pets feeling safe. Even the strings that come from party poppers can be a hazard for cats if they try to play with them and eat them.
On the 8th day of Christmas: Happy New Year! Feeling under the weather? As you reach for your headache tablets or something to sooth an over-indulged tum, make sure you keep your medication stored safely, away from your pets. Some common human medicines are extremely poisonous to our pets – ibuprofen can be fatal to dogs as can paracetamol to cats. Veterinary medicines need to go through a strict approval process before they are allowed to be prescribed and sold, to prove they are of good consistent quality, that they work and that they are safe for the species for which they are intended.
On the 9th day of Christmas: it’s time to remember some of our top tips for our pets in winter. Check that where your pet sleeps is draught free, and that if it’s freezing outside that any water is not iced over, so that outside living animals still have access. Don’t let your dog walk on an icy pond – the ice may look solid but it may not be. The cold weather can also make conditions such as arthritis worse in our pets as well as ourselves: talk to your vet as there are treatments available to help.
On the 10th day of Christmas why not snuggle up in the warm today and get crafting? We’ve got some great ideas, including a pet bed made from an old jumper and home-made dog treats to keep you busy and your pets happy!
On the 11th day of Christmas – for many it’s time to take down the tree. Make sure you stash those decorations safely and don’t leave any tinsel or glass baubles lying around for curious pets to hurt themselves with. Cats particularly find strings of tinsel and glass balls they can pat around with their paw fascinating. If you have had a real tree, then make sure you get all those pine needles up – even non-drop trees leave a dramatic trail as they are dragged out for recycling! Pine needles can potentially puncture the stomach lining of your pet if they’re eaten.
On the 12th day of Christmas…..although many of us have been working over the break, for a lot of us it’s back to work or school today. So let’s resolve to make our new routine a good one for our pets. Start as you mean to go on and check that vaccinations, worming and flea treatments are up to date. Is your pet insured? This is recommended by most vets, as it helps protect you from any unexpected bills. And here’s to a great year with our pets!