Ah… It’s that time of year again when the festive season approaches and we all look forward to our own version of a “Winter Wonderland.” Ok, so maybe not much sign of the chestnuts roasting and sleigh bells ringing when it’s sunny and mid-thirties outside, but still plenty to sing about and definitely a favourite time of year for many.
In amongst all the joy, fun and “high spirits,” it can be easy to overlook the impact that our festivities can have on all those around us. By which we at GVC mean specifically our beloved furry family members.
We humans have all been brought up with an idea and experience of the festive season and our expectations translate into how we immerse ourselves into the varied and seasonally unique events and activities that come around “but once a year”. These range from the decorative trees and paper wrapped goodies, the frequent socials and abundance of food and chocolate (!), multiple visitors and the resulting slippage of routines… Loud singing, dancing and partridges in pear trees… the smells, sights, tastes and sounds can combine to create an ambience of wonder…
However, that ambience can also become a sensory overload (and not just for the furries) and all of these seasonal pleasures can, if not given a little consideration, create stress and upset for our wonderful animal amigos… luckily, we at GVC are here to help and with a little thought and forward planning this really can be the most magical time of year!
So, here are the GVC’s top tips on how to keep your pets healthy, happy and safe during this tantalising and twinkling time.
1. DO NOT feed chocolate to your dog! Chocolate is extremely poisonous for dogs, especially dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Chocolate contains a toxin called theobromine, which humans easily metabolize, but is processed much more slowly by dogs, allowing toxic levels to build up in their system. This can be fatal. If your dog does eat chocolate by accident, please take him to your vet immediately for emergency treatment.
2. Keep cats away from tinsel and other Christmas decorations. These shiny, glittery objects can be very alluring to cats, but if swallowed, may cause obstructions in the intestines that may need surgical attention. Tinsel and other stringy objects can cause the intestines to twist, which can be very serious. Instead, give your furry friend cat-appropriate toys that are safe for him or her to play with.
3. Do not give leftover food to your dog or cat. Bones in particular can cause very nasty gastro-intestinal upsets with vomiting and diarrhoea. In addition, food eaten during the festive season can be rich or strongly seasoned, which may not agree with your pet. Stick to your regular pet food and buy specific dog or cat treats if you want to give them a special festive gift. We can recommend a number of tasty delights.
4. Your household may be full of family, friends and visitors during this special time, which can be quite daunting for some of our pets. Make sure that they have a safe place to retreat to and please inform all visitors not to feed them human treats. Also, be aware that noise from celebration and fireworks can cause your pets to become fearful or anxious. If you think this may be the case, ask our veterinary behaviour specialist at GVC for advice.
5. Finally, if you buy new toys for your dog during this time, ensure that the toys are safe and appropriate. Some toys contain stuffing or “squeakers”, which may be swallowed by your dog and may cause gastro-intestinal problems. If your dog likes to take toys apart, perhaps consider a “stuffing-less” toy or a Kong filled with dog-appropriate goodies to keep them safe and happy. A range of suitable and GVC endorsed toys are available from our merchandise range.
Lastly (and hopefully not needing to be said…) please, please, please do not gift an animal to anyone who isn’t expecting or ready for the responsibility that follows. Puppies, kittens and all the rest of the fluffy cute wonderfulness that is the pet world all come with a full list of requirements and essential needs… and if in doubt, watch Gremlins… a cautionary Christmas tale for sure!
Of course, in all seriousness and if there really is any concern, no matter how big or small, about your pet’s health and happiness, please call or visit GVC for the very best in pet care.
We all want everyone to have a fantastic time, to savour all the pleasures and relax in the end of year festivities. A time to eat, drink and be merry and (with a little care and attention) our pets will certainly add hugely to the festive cheer. Be happy and be safe! From all the team at GVC, Happy Holidays!