by Miriam Kerins
The below article is written as a guideline and as an
informational source only. It is in no way intended to be
used, nor should it ever be used, as a substitute for
professional veterinary advice. If you have any concerns
regarding your animal's health or behaviour, please contact
your local veterinarian or dog training professional without
You know the Christmas countdown has commenced when some
poor soul is sent to the attic crawl space to retrieve and
untangle the giant sparkly, glittery, colourful mass we call
Ďthe fairy lights.í In fact, as I write, Iím listening to
Christmas FM, wishing I had a mug of marshmallow laden hot
chocolate clutched in my paw! Ah ya gotta love Christmas.
So, if, like me youíre busy preparing to deck the halls, (or
are delegating that task to someone else), are panic buying
and are generally enjoying the run up to all the
festivities; (and letís face it we need all the glad tidings
and cheer we can get nowadays), then read on! Iím going to
give you a few tips for making sure the little ones, and by
Ďlittle onesí I mean the four legged kids, also benefit from
Santaís visit by staying safe and happy during the holiday
I hope you find the below helpful!
● Keep an eye on the Christmas Tree: Dogs donít
differentiate, so a tree in your living room looks the same
as a tree in the park. Familiarise Fido with the tree and
never allow unsupervised access until he/she has learned the
difference. If you have a real tree, sweep up fallen needles
as these can get stuck in your pet's paws or throat; and
trim lower branches to avoid poking accidents. If possible,
fence off the tree from your pet.
● Dogs are intrigued by the sudden appearance of colourful
boxes, so donít put gifts of food or treats under the tree
until itís time to open them. Pets canít read gift tags, but
they can smell a box of choccies, (highly toxic to them), at
twenty paces, and may decide to open that interesting,
delicious treat and have their own, private but potentially
● Christmas Decorations: We all enjoy looking at beautiful
lights and ornaments adorning trees, fire places, doors and
stairwaysÖ and so do our pets; only they see them as chew
toys. While we understand no tree is complete without fairy
lights; stray cables and wires may be tempting for your pet
to nibble on. To remove the risk of electrocution, ensure
all cables are out of reach of pets and tape down loose
ones. Cats love knocking baubles from the tree, so do try to
use unbreakable decorations. Tinsel, ribbon, cling-film and
tin foil should be avoided, or at least confined to the
higher branches of your tree.
● Toxic Treats: It can be tough, so youíll need eyes in the
back of your head when it comes to guarding the leftovers.
Donít leave the turkey or honey baked ham on top of the
worktops; instead put them into the fridge. Many a pet
parent has spent a fortune on a vetís out-of- hoursí
emergency visits to their home following the dogís midnight
feast of turkey bones. Pets can choke and/or experience
internal damage from snacking on bones, and even cooked ones
can prove fatal.
Did you know grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, caffeine and
macadamia nuts etc., are also deadly to dogs and cats?
● Pets and Guests: When you have guests, secure your pet in
a safe place. The more people you add to the equation, the
more you place your pet in danger. Small breeds like Yorkies
and Pomeranians etc., are often accidentally stood on;
especially if you get distracted by company and lose track
of your petís whereabouts. When it comes to visiting my
home, I make sure my guests know my house rules. My pets are
not to be treated as novelty toys and are kept out of harmís
way at all times. No exceptions! I donít care who you are!
● While Iím at itÖremember: Most people, when dressed in
their holiday finest, donít appreciate animal hair or canine
drool. (Tough if you visit our house). Elderly visitors and
toddlers may lose their balance when jumped upon by even a
moderately-sized dog. Young children pose an interesting
attraction for dogs because they carry food at muzzle level.
Never leave cups/glasses where pets can drink from them,
especially if they contain alcohol.
● Finally, remind guests to watch for pets when opening
outside doors. Make sure your pets are wearing current
identification tags and are micro chipped Ė itís a legal
● Maintain Routine: If you walk your dog at a certain
time each day, then try to stick to it. Any change can
cause pets to become anxious and unsettled.
● Toys - Don't forget about the little toys you get in
Christmas crackers! Theyíre choking hazards so pick them up
off the ground!
● Festive Foliage - Poinsettia, Holly, Mistletoe, Amaryllis
and Lilies are poisonous to pets and must be kept out of
reach. Poinsettia can cause drooling, oral pain and
vomiting. Mistletoe causes vomiting, laboured breathing,
shock, and even death from cardiovascular collapse if
ingested. Seek immediate veterinary treatment if you think
your pet may have ingested parts of any of these plants, or
indeed, any foreign object
Nollaig Shona Daoibh!
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