The perils for pets of the festive season

The nights are getting darker and colder and lights have begun to appear in town centres — Christmas must be on the way.

We all know the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the festive season, but similar rules apply to our pets.

Over-indulging is part of the day, however the off-cuts from the turkey and vegetables may double your pets’ calorie intake. And that’s just the food you are aware of. With soft-hearted relatives and food often placed at a more accessible height, it is likely they are getting much more.

Cheese boards are tempting a snack (especially to my crafty greyhound), and although dairy products aren’t poisonous they can cause quite bad stomach upsets, which is probably the last thing you want to deal with on Boxing Day. Lots of the other food, however, can be more seriously harmful.

Most people know about chocolate, and fast action with a phone call and possible trip to the vets’ can prevent most damage. Gravy often contains onion, garlic and high levels of salt, all of which can cause stomach upsets and more permanent organ damage.

Mouthfuls of Christmas cake and mince pies can be equally damaging as dried fruit can be poisonous and your pets’ alcohol tolerance is significantly lower than yours.

Decorations pose another challenge; the cat climbing the Christmas tree is well known, and the baubles and tinsel may be just as tempting to play with, possibly resulting in injuries, or in more serious circumstances a trip to the vets’ for an operation to remove a decoration from a stomach.

Other decorations are designed to look or smell like food, such as scented candles and pot pourri, and this may fool our pets, the latter of which can cause more than just an upset stomach. Usually the taste and texture of these does put them off once they have taken a bite.

The other main ‘problem’ we all know about is stress, and our pets are prone to suffering too. Changes in routine, loud noises, sparkling decorations, topped off with new people and smells, can be confusing and worrying for your pet, especially cats. Make sure you allow them somewhere quiet and comfortable to escape to if needed. Ensure cats can have a height advantage too.

Take time out for them too; remember checking on the cat or taking the dog for a walk may give the perfect excuse for some quiet time for you.

With all this in mind, enjoy the festive season safely – both you and your pet.

By AMY CHAPMAN, Vet