So the festive season is upon us again which presumably means most of us will be frantically decking out our halls with all sorts of colourful decorations and buying lovely pressies for all our friends and loved ones.
But it’s so important – like the rest of the year – to consider the happiness and safety of our four-legged family members too because this time of year is FULL of potential hazards.
Shiny, sparkly, harmless-looking dangers include tinsel that playful pups and curious kittens can ingest and get tangled up in their 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 stuck in paws and pads causing pain and requiring a trip to the emergency vet.
Foodwise, please 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.
Grapes and raisins (including fruit cake) should also be kept well-off your pet’s festive menu as they can cause kidney problems. The same goes for onions (or anything containing them) 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, lily pollen and mistletoe will also cause serious toxicity to your pets; as will unsupervised – and extremely palatable – antifreeze which can cause irreversible kidney failure in cats that have walked through a puddle of the stuff just once and then lick their paws clean.
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.
When out walking near frozen lakes, ponds, etc please keep dogs on leads as fatal accidents occur every year to both dogs and owners falling through thin ice.
Make sure when your pet comes in from outside you wash any rock salt grit off its paws immediately as it can cause painful blisters and even contain traces of antifreeze leading to poisoning and even death if licked off and swallowed.
Respect your pets when unfamiliar guests come to visit during the holidays as their normal routine will be upset; in particular warning strangers (especially young children) about approaching your pets correctly to prevent any bites.
Never let your dog off the lead in a heavy snowstorm or blizzard as they can lose sight of you, become disorientated and get lost easily.
And when spoiling your pet rotten this Christmas – always spare a thought for lonely rescue dogs spending (another?) Christmas behind bars and with no happy warm family fussing 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.
Finally I’m donating £1 to Oldies Club from every one of my Canine Care iPhone apps sold between now and January 2nd 2012. Makes a great Christmas present too for any iPhone owning dog lover!
Download/gift your Canine Care app here.