Keeping Your Pets Safe And Happy This Festive Period

With Christmas nearly upon us it’s time to dig those decorations out of storage, find the perfect tree and indulge in all the joys that the festive season brings. For those of us who are pet owners however, we know this time of year can be fraught with opportunities for our furry friends to get themselves into mischief. Follow our top tips to make sure all the family stays safe this holiday season!

cat with christmas tree


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the perfect tree and all the sparkling and shiny paraphernalia that accompanies it; but for those of us with four-legged companions this can prove the most tempting, and potentially dangerous, playground of the year! Follow these handy hints to help reduce the amount of tree shenanigans your pet can indulge in:

  • Cats love to climb and many a Christmas tree has been felled by acrobatic felines (and a few acrobatic dogs!); to reduce the risk of toppling trees ensure that they are fixed firmly to the walls or ceiling and consider weighting down the base.
  • Pets love ‘toys’ and to our four-legged friends Christmas tree baubles and ornaments are often the most enticing of all:
    • Ensure that all tree ornaments are tightly fixed to the tree so that they can’t be dislodged by a playful paw.
    • Avoid using glass ornaments which can cause significant injury if broken or chewed.
    • Avoid decorations made of chocolate which can be extremely toxic (but very tempting) to dogs and can cause considerable stomach upsets if eaten by cats.
    • Also consider hanging tree ornaments a little higher up the tree and leave the lower branches clear.
  • Pets, especially cats, are attracted to flashing lights and dangly wires so consider the ‘static’ (not flashing) tree light setting and ensure that all low hanging wires are safely protected – also ensure that all lights are switched off at the mains when your pet is not being directly supervised (or even consider low voltage battery operated lights); there are some very mischievous cats and dogs who think wires are there for chewing!
  • Ensure you don’t place any cat-nip or dog-treat containing presents under or near the tree as this will entice your pets to the area.
  • Consider placing a ‘new’ and interesting play area for your cat in the vicinity of the tree to divert their attention – make this area stimulating and bright with lots of cat safe toys. For dogs, try introducing an exciting new toy on the day you plan to put your decorations up.
  • Take extra care with real trees as some types can cause upset tummies and mouth irritation if chewed/ingested. And, whilst occurrence is rare, it is also worth remembering that pine needles can cause gut damage/blockages (especially if eaten in large amounts) – if concerned your pet may find your tree too tempting as a tasty snack, it may be worth investing in a species of tree that is less likely to shed needles or even consider an artificial tree.
  • Trees with soil bases may well be subjected to becoming the newest litter tray so consider a way of covering the soil. Also be aware that many fertilisers/plant foods for live Christmas Trees are extremely toxic to pets and can leach into the water trays at the bottom of the pot – often a place your pet may take a sneaky drink from!

dog christmas tree decoration

Deck the Halls

Wall and ceiling decorations/garlands are less of a concern for those of us with dogs but those of us who are cat parents will realise that height is not deemed as an obstacle to our furry feline friends! As with Christmas Trees it is important that all wall and ceiling decorations are firmly attached and robust enough to support the more adventurous cat should they choose to use them as a new play apparatus.

Festive flowers

Flowers and floral arrangements are a popular addition to many households at Christmas but it is important to realise that many of these can be extremely dangerous to our pets:

  • Holly and Mistletoe are two festive plants that can be extremely toxic to both cats and dogs and can cause potentially life threatening illness if ingested. If you want to hang the mistletoe this year then make sure it is high enough (and well out of reach) so that even the most acrobatic of cats won’t be able to get their paws on it.
  • Lilies have been shown to be the most popular flower used in Christmas bouquets, but did you know that just one or two bites of any part of the lily plant can cause potentially fatal kidney disease in your cat?! Even the pollen is poisonous! So if you are a cat parent: be sure to check any incoming floral arrangements for lilies and dispose of them immediately.
  • Poinsettia is a very popular Christmas plant that has a bad reputation for being very toxic to pets – in reality this plant has a very low toxicity level and is likely to just cause minor stomach upset if ingested by dogs and cats. It can also cause mild irritation if the sap comes into contact with skin or eyes – just keep it out of reach of pets to be on the safe side.

Cat with fairy lights

Party Time

Christmas is a time for socialising with family and friends and there can be a lot of activity in the house at this time of year. To help reduce the stress this may cause your pet, and to be sure that everyone has the best possible time, you can provide your pet with a quiet, safe and comfortable space that they can escape to if needed. Exercise and mental stimulation can also help relieve anxiety so a good walk with the family before the party, and access to their favourite toys to play with during it, can also help keep your furry friends happy and occupied. Another consideration to make is the arrival of more fireworks at this time of the year, fireworks can cause a stressful time for our pets so make sure you take a look at our Firework Feature to ensure your pet has a stress-free festive period!

For more information on how to help your pet de-stress this festive period you can revisit our Top Tips from our previous articles.

We hope that following our handy hints will help you and your pets to have a safe and very Merry Christmas

6th December 2018

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