Christmas is a fun time, but it can also be a dangerous time for pets – we tell you what to watch out for so as not to turn those sleigh bells into alarm bells.

Christmas tree and decorations

There’s nothing nicer than the smell of a fresh pine tree, but pine needles (and even the fake plastic ones) can be a problem if eaten by your pet, causing stomach problems and even perforation. Then there’s the tree water, it can be toxic to pets; try to keep a cover on it if you’ve got a pet that likes to drink anything that’s available. And then of course trees are a tipping hazard. Try and keep the tree somewhere stable, tucked in a corner against walls or windows, so that it can’t topple over if investigated by a curious pooch or kitten.

Decorations like tinsel, ribbons and string can be a big attraction, especially for playful cats. They can easily become twisted round the intestines if swallowed. Things like glue and pot pourri oil can be extremely toxic to pets, keep this stuff well away from them.

Even traditional Christmas plants like poinsettia, holly berries and mistletoe can be toxic, causing vomiting and breathing problems. And cats are particularly sensitive to lilies. The pollen can brush off onto them as they pass by and they can end up licking it off during grooming.

Christmas food and treats

Chocolate is everywhere at Christmas time, wrapped up under the tree, on the tree, on the coffee table. A box of Roses could be eaten by your angelic pooch, wrappers and all, before you’ve time to say ho, ho, ho Merry Christmas. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine (associated with the suggested aphrodisiac effect of chocolate) which is poisonous to pets. Dark chocolate contains more than white or milk, so is even more toxic. Your dog will sniff out a chocolate present under the tree or on the tree for that matter, so try and remove from reach and smell.

Sweets often contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, again poisonous to pets.

We all feel tempted to include our pets in the eating frenzy that is Christmas dinner. But turkey bones are a no-no. They can splinter and cause problems for dogs. Also Christmas dinner left-overs can be laden in fat, resulting in diarrhoea or vomiting if dogs are allowed to over-indulge.

Hustle and bustle

The same wisdom applies here as for other events such as Halloween and New Year’s Eve – if you’ve got a nervous pet who doesn’t like loud noise and lots of people; keep them secure in a cosy, warm room away from all the peak hour hustle and bustle. For more tips on keeping them safe check out our Halloween blog.

Including your pet in the festivities

There’s plenty you can do to include your pet in the festivities. Giving them a pressie is always a nice way to get in their good books. See our suggestions from last week’s blog here.

We might sound a bit of a bah humbug but you’ll thank us when your pets have a safe, happy and accident-free Christmas (really)!