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Safety tips for pet owners this Christmas

18 December 2018
Safety tips for pet owners this Christmas

Many common treats and snacks we humans enjoy as part of our holiday celebration – including avocado, macadamia nuts, ham, grapes, and raisins – can cause internal damage and in serious cases lead to death.

It’s important to know that ignoring your pets’ pleading faces is actually in their best interest. Dogs and cats digest and metabolise food differently to humans, so what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them.

Even pet owners who are careful about what they feed their pet need to be aware about the places their pet might find a feast. Handbags, gifts under trees, food left on tables, and in rubbish bags are common places where pets will steal foods that can make them sick.

“Most people know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs, but there is actually an array of popular festive ingredients that your pet’s bodies are simply not designed to eat,” says SPCA’s CEO, Andrea Midgen.

“Pets can get into food they’re not supposed to eat very quickly, so we have to be extra vigilant at this time of year.”

Although Christmas is the season of giving, there are plenty of other ways to spoil your pets. You can freeze pet food or put it into toys so your pets can gradually extract the food. A walk or games in the garden after a big meal is also a great way to make sure your pet gets the attention they need and to fight your own after-meal lethargy.

Ten foods unsafe for pets:

  • Fruit cake and Christmas pudding contain raisins, which can be deadly to cats and dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, excessive thirst, vomiting and, in serious cases, acute kidney failure and death
  • Alcohol and caffeine are toxic for pets.
  • Avocados contain persin which causes symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea to cardiac arrest and death. Birds are particularly sensitive to persin but avocado should not be fed to any pets.
  • Chocolate can cause seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea, and in some cases death.
  • Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, weakness and tremors if eaten by dogs.
  • Onions and chives contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia.
  • Peaches, plums, persimmons and apple pips contain a substance that degrades to cyanide.
  • Xylitol – a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum is dangerous.
  • Sweet-corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don’t let your dog chew on the cob.
  • Turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats not only add extra calories but can lead to intense pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea due to pancreatitis

Choose your decorations wisely

The foods listed above are not the only thing your pets might try to eat this Christmas.When decorating your home for the festivities, ensure your decorations are not a hazard for your pet.

Make sure your tree is safe, avoid toxic plants, keep your animals from chewing on power cords or lights, be careful of sharp and delicate ornaments, monitor lit candles, and, if you own cats, skip the tinsel to avoid accidental ingestion and costly surgery!

Try these pet-friendly decorating tips instead:

  • ·Make sure your Christmas tree is safely secured to the floor, wall or ceiling and cannot easily topple over.
  • ·Switch to battery or solar operated candles.
  • ·Decorate with shatterproof ornaments such as those made from plastic, wood or paper.
  • ·Keep lights and small decorations out of reach of animals.
  • ·Use plastic LED lights, they are cool to the touch, durable, and energy efficient.
  • ·Cover and contain cords with plastic casing or tape them down.
  • ·Unplug lights and other electronic decorations when you’re not home.
  • ·Decorate with non-toxic, animal-safe plants.
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