A Merry Christmas to you all

Advice to help you make sure your pets
have a Happy Christmas too!

As the build up to Christmas begins, don't forget to include your pets in your plans. There are many areas to consider that will ensure they enjoy the festive season too.

Some pets enjoy the change in atmosphere as excitement grows, furniture is moved to accommodate a Christmas tree and routines alter as children break up from school, but for others these changes can cause stress and anxiety. There are products available such as Adaptil (Dog appeasing Pheromone) and Feliway and Vetpro stress & anxiety capsules which are natural and can help to calm pets. They work best if they are used in the run up to the event so plan your diffuser "switch on" and write it on the calendar.

If you are having a party it may be easier to put your pets in boarding for the night or arrange for a friend or relatives to have them. If not have a "no go" area where pets can go to get away from the crowds. Have extra hiding places available for cats, (an easy way to do this is to use cardboard boxes with a hole cut out for a doorway put in quiet places such as behind a sofa). With guests coming and going outside doors may get left ajar leaving an opportunity for escape. So if pets are not contained in a secure room make sure they are wearing collars and tags and perhaps pop a sign on the door requesting it be kept shut to keep pets safe.

We have all experienced the sweet appealing eyes of our pets when we are serving the food and often sneak our pets a little Christmas dinner of their own. If you're including your pet in the party, make sure that you watch their waist-lines and reduce their dinner slightly. Don't forget that some foods are dangerous to dogs or you may end up with an unplanned Christmas visit to the vets.

Remember that dogs especially communicate a lot by body language and may become upset if guests behaviour suddenly becomes more exuberant after a few glasses of Christmas cheer. After giving all these warnings I must just say that many well socialised pets will enjoy the chance to meet new guests and get extra attention so it is really a case of training your family and friends.

Many a Boxing Day afternoon here has been spent treating vomiting and diarrhoea as well as removing foreign bodies after pets have enjoyed a day of different food and foraging in the wrapping paper. Here are a few things to consider to avoid a Christmas visit to the vets.

  1. Decorations - Cats especially are attracted to sparking decorations such as tinsel. If eaten this can cause damage or even block the intestines

  2. Plants - Many of us brighten our homes with Poinsettia, Holly and Mistletoe at this time year but please be aware that they are all poisonous.

  3. Turkey skin is very high in fat and can cause diarrhoea. Remember never to feed turkey bones to pets, they are too small and brittle.

  4. Chocolate, grapes and raisins are all poisonous and should not be fed to pets. Make sure they are placed well out of reach. Dogs have been known to not only break into and eat chocolates but to also eat the wrappers that have had to be surgically removed.

  5. Be especially aware if you have a puppy, kitten or rabbit in the house as they may get hold of small objects such as tiny toys from crackers or parts from party poppers and regularly check all electric cables for signs of chewing.

  6. If your pet is on medication or a prescription food don't forget to check you have plenty for the festive period. Deliveries from our suppliers to the hospital will be restricted so please order early.

  7. Do read labels/instructions on any toys that you buy for your pet. Most toys are not suitable to be left with unattended dogs.

  8. Finally don't forget to prepare for New Year fireworks if your pets are nervous of the sounds Many of the products that can help need to be put in place at least a couple of weeks before the night. Please do speak to us if you would like to talk about how your pet may benefit from some extra help.

All the staff at de Montfort Veterinary Hospital wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.