by Miriam Kerins


Please Note!

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 delay.


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 period.


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 deadly party.


● 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 requirement!


●  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!


©  Miriam Kerins



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