Christmas is a time of cheer and goodwill, with all the
family joining in the festivities. This will most likely involve your pet, who
is, after all, a member of the family. Unfortunately for our pets, Christmas
can be a challenging time; the complete change to routine, and exposure to a
variety of hazards which we as humans take for granted, all conspire to cause
problems at this time.

A little thought and planning on our part, can go a long way
to obviating these concerns, and ensure that a Happy Christmas is had by all!

…the DON’Ts…

Perhaps the biggest hazard, primarily to dogs, is chocolate.
Most of us know that dogs love chocolate, and that it is toxic, but perhaps we
are unaware that dark chocolate is 6 times more toxic than milk chocolate.
Baking chocolate (found in cakes and icing) is much more toxic still. As little
as 30g of dark chocolate may be poisonous to a dog of Labrador proportions! So,
gift wrapped chocolates left under the tree, or a corner from your chocolate
cake given as a treat, could have life-threatening implications for your pet.
Seek veterinary attention immediately, if you suspect your pet has consumed any
chocolate products.

Similarly, vine fruits, especially in their dried forms of
raisins, sultanas etc are toxic to dogs and cats. Christmas cakes, and mince
pies are full of these. As few as 5 raisins have been known to be fatal to
small dogs.

‘Turkey Tum’ is the common sequel to your pet sharing your
Christmas dinner! Dogs’ and cats’ digestive systems are completely different to
ours, and they do not tolerate sudden changes to the diet. By all means allow a
small amount of turkey (or whichever roast you are planning for the family) as
a supplement to the diet, but beware: attempts to feed your pet a full ‘Christmas
dinner’ will most likely have dire consequences for your carpet by Boxing Day!!
Don’t forget to ration out any treats your pet may have received in his or her
stocking; they don’t all need to be eaten on Christmas Day!

Besides food, other hazards include fairy lights (the wires
in these seem to attract cats especially) which present an electrical hazard,
gift wrappings tapes and bows (ribbons and other materials are often swallowed
by both cats and dogs), and both childrens’ and inappropriate pets’ toys, which
can be chewed and swallowed (plastic soldiers seem particularly hard to
resist). Be aware that cats, and particularly kittens, enjoy scaling Christmas
trees, and may inadvertently ‘fell’ the tree; hopefully not into the fireplace!
Don’t leave boisterous pets unattended in the room if your tree could be a

Don’t forget about the trend for fireworks to be let off at
Christmas and New Year nowadays, and take steps at dusk if your pet is affected
by these.

finally, a few ‘DO’s!:

Do take your dog for the usual brisk walks over the festive period; he
needs his routine, and you need to walk off Christmas dinner!

Do consider donating to an animal charity in lieu of gifts
to family and friends. Charities such as the Dog’s Trust, Cats Protection League,
WWF etc would be grateful for your kind gift.

Do consider travel arrangements (eg motion sickness
medications, regular stops) if you are travelling to be with relatives over

And finally, DO have a wonderful Christmas, and remember
that your vet is available, as always, 24/7 throughout the festive period.