Christmas Dangers to Pets

TUE NOV 1 2016

As the festive holiday season approaches be wary of all the pet pitfalls in and around your home.

Food

It can be very tempting to feed leftovers to your pets however any sudden change to your pet’s diet can cause gastric upset. Also fatty foods can cause life-threatening conditions like pancreatitis. Be careful not to feed your dog a turkey or chicken bone as cooked bones can cause gastrointestinal upset and blockage.

Chocolate is toxic to animals and I have come across many dogs that unwrap presents made of chocolate from under the Christmas tree. Signs of chocolate toxicity include twitching, vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, seizuring and death. If your dog ingests chocolate ensure you contact your vet immediately.

Also be wary of other toxic foods over the holiday season like grapes, sultanas, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, garlic and onion to name just a few.


Decorations

Cats can also get in trouble climbing Christmas trees and ingesting bright shiny things like tinsel and decorations. These objects can get stuck in your pet’s digestive tract and require surgical removal.

If you have young adventurous pets make sure your Christmas tree is safe and secure. Try to decorate your tree and home with objects that are not enticing for your pet. Avoid edible decorations or small shiny stringy objects that may catch their attention. Otherwise Christmas paraphenalia should be kept separate from troublesome pets.

Flowers are a wonderful adornment to your home however sweet-smelling Lilies can cause kidney failure and be fatal to cats.


Garden Safe

Ensure your garden is free of poisonous plants and shrubs or restrict your pet’s access to them. Some of the most common toxic plants include the Nightshades (Brunfelsia), Liliums, Oleanders, Bulbs (Onions, Daffodils), Madagascar Jasmine, Tomato and Potato Plants and Toadstools. Other plants can cause skin irritation like Wandering Jew. Also ensure your compost is not accessible to pets and that your fences are secure to keep your dog from escaping. Plenty of shade and water sources are necessary to keep pets cool over Summer.


Home Safe

Keeping your house pet-prepped is another important aspect of responsible pet ownership. This means providing a comfortable spot for your pet to rest. Supplying easily accessible food and water bowls as well as designating a space to toilet. Very young or old pets should be kept away from slippery surfaces and stairs. Ensure cupboards are always closed and that pets are prevented from accessing small spaces.


Stress and Anxiety

Guests and visitors are a sudden imposition on many pet’s home environments. Although some animals embrace change, most don’t. You may think them hiding away is a coping strategy however these animals are suffering undue stress and will often act out by urinating or defecating where they shouldn’t. They may also stop eating, develop gastric upset and lose weight.


To try to reduce stress for your pets ensure you make as little a change as possible to their home and routine. If they’re not of a friendly disposition make sure they have a safe and secure place separate from the noise and disruption. Also compensate for these changes by introducing some stress relievers to your home like Feliway plug-in diffuser or spray for cats or Adaptil diffuser or collar for dogs. These are great adjuncts for pet stress-relief in the home.

So remember to pet proof this festive season to keep you and your four-legged family merry over the holidays.

Posted by Dr Elise Barry

Dr. Elise grew up on the Gold Coast with a hobby farm and a back yard full of pets. Elise now resides in Melbourne with her husband, bub, and a rescue Labrador x Kelpie named Rumpold. Having always wanted to be a Veterinarian Elise completed a Science degree in Brisbane before moving to Sydney to complete a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from The University of Sydney. Elise worked in Australia and the UK before completing a Diploma in Wildlife Management in South Africa. Elise now spends her days teaching children about pet safety, playing with Rumpold and attempting yoga.

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