Christmas pet danger

How to avoid cat-astrophy this holiday season.

It may be “the most wonderful time of the year”, but the Christmas season can be dangerous and even deadly for our furry friends.

Things that we take for granted, such as a day at the beach, leftovers or Christmas decorations, can impact your pet’s health and wellbeing.

AWLQ rehoming partner Petstock vet Dr Sasha Nefedova shared her tips for a safe holiday season.

Holiday travel

It’s never been easier to incorporate your pet into your Christmas plans with so many dog-friendly campsites and pet-friendly accommodation options around Australia.

“If you are holidaying with your pets, remember to make preparations for your pet as well,” Dr Nefedova said.

Have bedding, food, medications and water ready to go and make sure you can transport them safely to your holiday destination.”

Dr Nefedova said it was important to ensure you pet could be easily identified. 

“Ensure registered microchips are up to date and include your details such as your phone number on collars,” she said.

“Most importantly, never leave your pet alone in a locked car as pets can die very quickly from heatstroke, even in milder weather.”

Beach safety

Long days and warm nights mean there’s no better time than summer to exercise your dog at the beach over the holiday break. 

“While dogs love a day on the beach, it’s important that pet owners keep a close eye for any potential risks that could spoil a great day out,” Dr Nefedova said.

“Things to look out for include signs of heatstroke, ticks and things that can be swallowed such as jellyfish, sea urchins and snakes.”

Beach essentials include plenty of water, a bowl, towels, pet-friendly sunscreen, toys and waste bags.

Christmas treats

“It can be very tempting to sneak a treat under the table to furry family members during the festive season, however, certain foods that we love to indulge in can actually be harmful or fatal to our fur-babies,” Dr Nefedova said.

Toxic Christmas food includes:

  • Christmas pudding and cake: Raisins and grapes can be fatally toxic to dogs, even in small quantities.
  • Pork, bacon and ham: Some pork products contain a high amount of fat, which can lead to illnesses like pancreatitis. Statistics show an increase of pancreatitis cases in dogs at Christmas time.
  • Macadamia nuts:  This Aussie Christmas staple is poisonous to dogs and can cause vomiting, weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression.
  • Onions: Can contribute to stomach upsets and even cause anaemia.
  • Lollies: Sweets can disrupt your pet’s metabolism and eating lollies with some artificial sweeteners can be life-threatening.
  • Alcohol: Allowing pets to consume any alcohol is dangerous. It can cause alcohol toxicity and even seizures.
  • Custard, milk and ice-cream: Consuming dairy can cause stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhea.

Christmas decorations

Shiny Christmas baubles or tinsel hanging from the tree can look like toys to your cat or dog.

“If a plastic or glass ornament breaks in their mouth, it could cause serious long-term damage or even pet fatality,” Dr Nefedova said.

“Keep candy canes and tinsel or tree lights out of reach to avoid food toxicity or electric shock.”

Dr Nefedova said opening presents on Christmas Day can also be dangerous. 

“Ensure wrapping paper is cleaned up immediately after presents have been opened as when chewed, wrapping paper and ribbons can be very dangerous for a pet’s intestines,” she said.

Pet stress

Catching up with family and friends is one of the best parts of the festive season but house guests and parties can prove stressful for dogs and cats.

“If you are hosting celebrations or planning to spend time away from your pet on Christmas day, ensure your pet is properly exercised beforehand to help them de-stress,” Dr Nefedova said.

“This will also likely make your pet sleep throughout the day once Christmas celebrations are underway.

“Create a safe environment for your pet to have some alone time away from guests throughout the day or night.”

Keep your pet safe with RACQ Pet Insurance.