Keeping pets safe and healthy in the home over the festive season can be a challenge, with an abundance of hidden dangers in the form of Yuletide treats, tinsel and fairy lights to tempt your pet into mischief.
According to Vets Now, last year saw a 41 percent spike in pet emergencies over the Christmas holidays, with over a third of those caused by pets eating novelty festive items. What’s more, an astonishing 69 percent of vets treated dogs for chocolate poisoning, with the other most commonly reported cases of foreign body ingestion being raisins and sultanas (45 percent) and Christmas decorations (10 percent).
To avoid a trip to the animal emergency room, here's some top tips from the experts at IAMS to keep your home safe from prying paws and ensure you enjoy a happy, healthy holiday with your beloved pet.
Holly and mistletoe: pets love to sniff and nibble at new plants in the home, so when decking the halls, avoid using seasonal greenery, such as holly and mistletoe, as these plants are poisonous to both dogs and cats.
Christmas decorations: hang decorations like tinsel, fairy lights and enticing edible decorations off the lower branches of the tree. As well as being choking hazard, ingesting tinsel and other decorations can potentially block your pet’s intestines, which can lead to surgical intervention. Moreover, while scented candles and incense add a warm, wintery glow to the home, once lit they should be placed on high shelves or mantels, well out of reach of a pet’s wagging tail.
Party guests: with social gatherings galore, Christmas can be a stressful time for pets - especially if they’re nervous around strangers. If you’re hosting a party, create a haven for your pet where they can escape to when the house is full, with their favourite blanket and one or two familiar toys.
Antifreeze: last year, almost a quarter of vets saw cases of cats that had drunk anti-freeze. An essential in icy temperatures, take care to keep antifreeze safely shut away, and watch out for novelty festive items, such as snow globes, as they may contain this, which can be fatal to animals when ingested.
Indulgent festive treats: while you might think sneaking your furry friend a tasty titbit from your Christmas dinner is a special treat, it could have serious consequences for their health. Among the top seasonal treats to keep those little paws away from include:
Mince pies and Christmas Pudding: these are packed full of currants, raisins and sultanas, which are harmful to dogs, and are also full of fat and suet, which can give pets severe stomach issues, and may even lead to pancreatitis.
Alcohol: avoid leaving glasses of mulled wine and eggnog within reach of curious cats and nosy dogs, as even as little as a tablespoon of alcohol can be poisonous to pets.
Turkey bones: bones leftover from your roast turkey risk splintering, which can cause trauma to your pets’ gums and get lodged in the roof of the mouth, throat, stomach, intestine or rectum.
If you really want to treat your pet this Christmas, IAMS has a range of lip-licking options. Available in mouth-watering festive flavours, including lamb and cranberry, IAMS Minis dog snacks are low in fat and made without gluten to provide a tasty and healthy snack for pampered pooches. Meanwhile, IAMS Delights make a paws-itively purr-fect stocking filler for festive felines! With a range of seasonal flavours, including chicken and turkey in gravy, IAMS Delights is free from added artificial flavours and colourings and has an irresistible meaty taste your cat will love.
Finally, if you’re worried about your pet’s health during the holidays, make sure you have the nearest vet’s holiday opening hours and contact details to hand - especially if you’re visiting friends and family away from home.