Tis the season to be jolly…but help make it a healthy, happy one for animals

If you can’t indulge in a few treats at this time of year, when can you?  Whether it’s some scrumptious mince pies, a festive tipple or tucking in to a tins of sweeties, we all like to spoil ourselves and those dear to us.  However, did you know there are a lot of things on a Christmas menu and in the house that can be harmful to pets?

Here are some to watch out for:

  • Chocolate (especially dark chocolate)
  • Alcohol
  • Sultanas, raisins and currants (and any food containing these- mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding)
  • Garlic, onions & shallots
  • Rhubarb
  • Beetroot
  • Nutmeg
  • Bones from carcasses
  • Salty foods

Then there are plants, evergreen foliage and decorations we bring indoors:

  • Christmas tree needles
  • Holly
  • Ivy
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettias
  • Lilies

All of the above can cause your pet to become ill if ingested.  There’s also choking hazards such as cracker toys, present bows even tinsel and wrapping paper have been found causing serious problems when swallowed!

How to help wildlife and outdoor pets

As well as dangers indoors, there are precautions you can take to help wildlife and pets housed outside.  Anti-freeze is lethal to animals,  if you spill any then please clean up the spillage immediately and thoroughly. Rock salt (used to grit frozen roads and paths) is harmful if licked/eaten.  Wash your dogs feet after returning from a walk.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets who live outdoors need lots of extra bedding to keep warm. Should the temperature drop below 15C  it is advisable to bring them into a shed, outhouse or garage.
Horses will benefit from a rug and need extra food.  However, some native breeds are very hardy and a coat may not be required.  Talking of coats, a functional jacket or jumper for your dog (especially those who have smooth fur eg sight hounds) will help prevent cold.

Making sure wild birds have food and access to clean water will see them through until Spring.  The water is not only for them to drink but the bathe. If you have a pond and the temperatures drop to freezing then placing a saucepan of hot water onto the ice (don’t pour the water out) will melt a whole that allows the water to remain oxygenated.

Finally, pets are part of the family and we want you to enjoy Christmas with them.  However, being aware of risks means you will hopefully have a peaceful festive time and avoid a trip to the vets.  It is advisable to find out your veterinary practices opening hours for Christmas and the New Year in case of emergencies.


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