How to give pets a fun and safe Christmas

By Vet Graham Lewis

Christmas is nearly here again, so it is worth taking a moment to think about how to look after your pets amid the festivities, and hopefully avoid any unnecessary trips to the vet.

There are a number of options, if you’d like to get your dog or cat a present. My own two dogs, Clova and Skye, love nothing better than opening a nice new toy on Christmas day, especially the unwrapping part! 

You can find ideas for safe pet toys online, or you might give something food based, or a nice new bed for an older dog who is feeling a bit stiff, can be appreciated.

Christmas decorations can cause problems unfortunately. If cats or dogs ingest things like tinsel or ribbon, they can cause internal blockages. We have had to surgically remove tinsel from a dog’s intestines, and we had a dog with cuts and lacerations in its mouth from trying to play with a bauble.

I would be cautious about leaving dogs or cats around the Christmas tree without supervision.

If you could design a festival full of toxins for dogs, Christmas would be quite high up there, with everything from chocolate to Christmas cake with raisins, and mince pies.

Presents under the tree can be a hazard. My own dog opened up a parcel of chocolate and we had to rush her to the surgery and make her sick.

You can’t supervise pets 24/7 and if you have a food orientated dog like I do, accidents happen. The most important thing is if you think your dog or cat has eaten something poisonous, pick up the phone and call the vet, it doesn’t matter if it is lunchtime on Christmas day. 

Be careful about sharing Christmas dinner with your pets. I have no issues with a little bit of turkey on its own which is quite bland.  But every year following Christmas we have dogs and cats with vomiting and diarrhoea, or in severe cases pancreatitis, because they have eaten fatty foods and leftovers.

Most vets close for a day or two over Christmas, so you will not only have a pet that needs help but the out of hours costs as well.

Sometimes we see dogs which are anxious because of the change in routine and more people around the house and we can see more cases of cats with cystitis around Christmas because they have become stressed. So, it’s good to try and keep your pets’ routine as much as possible.