With the holiday- and festive season approaching rapidly, here are some top tips on how to keep your pets safe and healthy during this 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 to play with.
3. Do not give left over food to your dog or cat. Bones in particular can cause very nasty gastro-intestinal upsets with vomiting and diarrhea. 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.
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 your veterinary behaviour specialist 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.