YAY!! The festive season is here which means most of us are frantically decking out our halls with all sorts of colourful decorations and buying pressies for our friends and loved ones.
But it’s so important – as it is the rest of the year – to consider the happiness and safety of our four-legged family members too, because this time of year can be FULL of potential hazards.
Shiny sparkly dangers include tinsel that playful pups and cheeky kittens can ingest and get tangled in their tiny guts requiring serious (and expensive) surgery to fix. Fairy-light wires may also be seen as fun toys and can cause shocks and burns to any inquisitive pet – especially house-rabbits.
Fragile glass baubles should also be kept safely out of reach of all pets as any broken fragments may get painfully stuck in paws and pads requiring an emergency trip to your vets.
Foodwise, NEVER offer your dog any chocolate and keep it well out of his/her reach as it contains poisonous theobromine which may kill your dog if ingested in sufficient quantities – especially with dark chocolate containing even more deadly theobromine.
Grapes and raisins (includes fruit cake) should also be kept well-off your pet’s festive menu as they can cause kidney problems; and unwanted turkey carcasses should be bagged-up and disposed of efficiently – and certainly not fed to your dog as they can cause both life-threatening intestinal perforation and painful constipation.
Ingestion of any of the traditional Christmas plants such as holly, ivy, poinsettia (above), lily pollen and mistletoe will also cause serious toxicity to your pets; as will unsupervised – and extremely palatable – antifreeze which will cause irreversible kidney failure in cats that have walked through a puddle of the stuff, even by just licking a pawful.
During the cold weather please make sure cats that aren’t keen to venture outside don’t get bored by providing them with toys and scratching posts – and use your time off work to play with them even more!
I’ve never been a fan of novelty clothes for dogs but there are practical items available to purchase that can help keep hairless breeds, older arthritic dogs and poorly patients undergoing chemotherapy toasty warm during these chilly winter months.
And when spoiling your pet rotten this Christmas – always spare a thought for lonely rescue dogs spending (another?) Christmas behind bars and with no family to fuss over them.
Perhaps make a donation to your local shelter, sponsor a rescue dog, or even donate some old blankets, food, toys or newspapers.
Please don’t forget your local wildlife either. Pre-prepared foodballs from your local garden centre may be the only source of energy available to your garden guests for miles around and make sure any drinking water is available too by cracking iced-over birdbaths and adding a floating tennis ball to your pond to prevent it freezing over.
NEVER give a pet as a present and if considering buying a puppy or kitten, always consider adopting a rescue pet or contacting a responsible breeder first; and of course never buy a dog or cat from a pet shop, website, or free newspaper advert. Please check out my list of do’s and don’ts when choosing a puppy.
Most of you will know I’m an active campaigner against puppy farming. This year my PUP AID 2010 music festival and celeb-judged dog show in Brighton successfully raised much awareness and the PUP AID Guitar, kindly donated by Epiphone, has been signed by some of the biggest names in British Rock history.
Brian May signing the PUP AID Epiphone Casino Guitar (Picture: Julia Claxton)
These include Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), Brian May (Queen – pictured above), Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Liam Gallagher (Oasis, Beady Eye), Roger Daltrey (The Who), Paul Weller (Style Council/The Jam), Mick Jones (The Clash) and Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy).
I am truly honoured to have gained all the support of these dog-loving music legends, and the guitar will be auctioned at Bonhams, Knightsbridge on Wednesday 15th December in a special music memorabilia sale.
Thank you to all who’ve helped with and continue to support the PUP AID campaign so we can keep raising awareness, promoting rescue pets and responsible dog breeding, and finally put an end to the horrific puppy farming industry.
A happy and healthy Christmas and New Year to you, your pets and your garden wildlife – see you all again in 2011.