The festive season may be an exciting time but it can throw up dangers for our four-legged friends. Here are some tips for keeping your pet – and home – in one piece this Christmas.
- Festive food can be dangerous for our pets
- Some seasonal plants could make them ill
- Simple ways to pet-proof your home
Christmas may be our favourite time of year – but it’s pretty popular with our pets too. Dogs love those long festive walks and time in front of the fire, with owners on hand to lavish them with plenty of attention. Meanwhile, we reckon cats secretly revel in the fact their humans are at home and able to pander to their every need.
But there’s no doubt a pet can throw a ‘paw’ in the works at Christmas – which is why preparation is essential. A few simple steps can help keep your pets safe amid all the celebrations and make sure you’re not adding to your own stress levels.
Whether it’s stopping cats from scaling your Christmas tree, hamsters ending up in the hamper or pooches pilfering the pudding – here’s how to have a paw-fect Christmas with your pets.
Top tips for pet-proofing your home this Christmas
Here are a couple things you can do:
- Hide the Christmas treats
- Avoid certain festive plants
- Skip the candles
- Pet-proof the tree
- Sort a safe space for pets
- Choose an artificial tree
- Don’t leave presents under the tree
- Don’t leave lights and electric wires lying around
- Tell guests not to feed your pets
- Set the table for Christmas dinner on the day
1. Keep festive chocolate tucked away
No matter how hard those puppy eyes try to win you over – chocolate and sweets are dangerous for dogs. Make sure your pets stick to their regular pet food this Christmas to avoid dampening your festive cheer with an emergency trip to the vets.
- If you're not enjoying your After Eights while watching Harry Potter for the 1,000th time this festive season, make sure that you store them – and any other chocolatey snack – out of reach of curious noses.
- Mince pies may be scrummy, but they're certainly not for your puppy. Your beloved pooch could find themselves seriously ill if they get a taste of that Christmas goodness. Any snack with raisins, sultanas and currants are a serious no-go for your pets.
- No matter how many times Ginger rubs around your ankles, your Irish cream is not for her. Alcohol is poisonous to cats and dogs, so remind guests and family members to keep drinks close and to wipe up any spills straight away.
2. Think carefully about Christmas flowers
It’s important to remember that some of the blooms we enjoy at Christmas can make our pets sick. It’s best to either leave the following foliage out of the house altogether or keep it well out the way of your furry friends.
- Poinsettia – those famous red leaves that brighten our homes at Christmas are poisonous to cats and dogs.
- Mistletoe – the plant of love doesn’t love our pets. Mistletoe is highly toxic to cats and dogs, so keep this one up high.
- Christmas lilies – lilies are toxic to dogs and potentially to cats, so don’t risk your furry friend’s health and keep them out of your Christmas flower arrangements.
- Amaryllis – the stalks, flowers and bulbs of this popular Christmas plant will harm your pets if eaten.
- Holly – despite being food for birds, cats and dogs should avoid it at all costs.
3. Avoid leaving candles in easy to reach places
Pets don’t appreciate the cosy ambience that candles provide at Christmas and instead they can cause a bit of a hazard for our clumsy, furry friends. Cats racing around the house can knock them over, or happy, wagging dog tails can brush against them with potentially disastrous consequences. On top of that, the lovely smells can encourage dogs to nibble on them.
If you want to keep the feel of candles, why not swap them for LED alternatives? And, if you’re gathering around the open fire this Christmas, make sure you have a fireguard to stop pets from getting too close.
4. Pet-proof your Christmas tree
We’ve all seen the classic movie scene of the cat climbing the Christmas tree and sending it crashing to the floor, tinsel and all. Here are a few tips to keep your tree, and pets, in one piece.
- Hang edible ornaments higher up – if you’re partial to a chocolate coin, candy cane or edible garland, don’t forget these treats are poisonous to your pets – and could also tempt them to jump up. Make sure they’re well out of reach.
- Put a barrier in front – barricade off the bottom of the tree to stop the cat from climbing up or wagging tails from knocking anything off.
- Don’t decorate the bottom of the tree – avoid tempting the dog to chew hanging ornaments by not decorating the very bottom of the tree. You can always buy decorative stands and protectors to avoid it looking bare.
- Secure the tree – if you have energetic pets, use a fishing line to hold the tree in place with a hook on the ceiling and a weighted stand to make sure your tree can't topple over.
- Hang delicate ornaments higher up - avoid any pesky paws playing with delicate decorations that can break, especially glass baubles or sentimental ornaments.
5. Create a calm space
Pets sometimes need a time-out just as much as we do. Christmas can be an unsettling time for a new pet in particular, with lots of people arriving and plenty of noise.
Create a calm and quiet space in another room, away from the hustle and bustle of visitors. Ring fence this off from your guests, especially children. Place your pet’s bed, water, and favourite toys inside to make it feel like home.
6. Consider an artificial tree
While real trees smell and look great, falling needles can cause problems for pets. They can get stuck in paws and cause discomfort and stomach upsets if they’re mistaken for a snack. Pets can also become ill if they drink tree water if there are preservatives in it, meaning it’s safer to opt for an artificial tree.
If you don’t want to compromise on the rich smell of a pine forest, be sure to clear up any fallen pines every day to minimise the risk to your furry friends.
7. Avoid putting Christmas presents under the tree
Unless you want your gifts opened early, keep them out of the way until the big day. Puppies and kittens especially will have a blast tearing through that wrapping paper and ruining the surprise. If you need to store gifts under the tree, why not place them in a large, wrapped box that pets would struggle to open?
8. Keep electric wires out of the way
Christmas lights are pretty, but they pose a chew risk and can cause an electric shock, burns and even death. Be sure to secure your lights well out of reach from all pets – especially gnawing puppies.
9. Ask guests NOT to feed your pets
As Christmas is a time typically filled with lots of guests, be sure to ask your family and friends not to feed your pets. Even tidbits passed under the table from Christmas dinner can upset their stomach and lead to them getting overfed.
10. Don’t set the table for Christmas dinner the night before
Imagine the frustration – you wake up on the big day to the cat having destroyed the Christmas crackers and disturbed your beautiful table arrangement. It’s best to arrange the table while everyone can keep an eye out for any pesky paws trying to cause havoc.