Christmas is a magical time of year when families, pets included, spend quality time together. The last thing you want to happen during the jolly festive season is for your pet to fall ill or an unwanted trip to the vet. So, if you’re interested in how to have yourself a merry little Christmas, just keep on reading for our Christmas safety tips for pets, including how to dog-proof your home (or cat-proof for that matter) and advice for keeping your pets safe and calm.
How to pet-proof a Christmas tree
Putting up the Christmas tree, whether real or artificial, signifies that the big day is not far away at all – it’s time to start feeling all festive!
However, if you’ve spent a lot of time making your Christmas tree absolutely perfect, shopping for the best baubles, you may be looking for ideas around how to protect the Christmas tree from the dog or cat.
Luckily, we’re here to help, and have some top tips to bear in mind when it comes to making sure your Christmas tree is pet-proof and safe.
What Christmas decorations are poisonous to cats and dogs?
While you might have built up a collection of beautiful Christmas decorations, you might not realise that some of your decorations could actually be harmful or poisonous to cats and dogs.
Hanging chocolate decorations on the tree as an extra sweet treat to enjoy over the festive season might seem like no big deal, but it can be. As chocolate is bad for cats and dogs, you don’t want them to accidentally end up biting into these, so it’s best to avoid any edible decorations.
Tinsel is another thing that your pet, particularly curious cats, might be interested in playing with. Not actually poisonous, tinsel is more of a concern if your pet starts nibbling on it. So, if you are using tinsel to play with your pet, it’s best not to leave them up to their own devices with it.
Similarly, if you’re wrapping any presents with your pet in the room, just keep an eye out as they might be keen to start playing with or eating the wrapping paper.
Are Christmas trees poisonous to dogs and cats?
Beloved pet owners will be relieved to hear that Christmas trees aren’t usually poisonous to dogs and cats.
However, if your dog or cat is prone to chewing on them it might be worth trying to help them get out of this habit, as it can still cause an upset stomach or irritate their mouth, and if they eat too much it could cause a blockage in their digestive systems. The needles from Christmas trees are also sharp and could cut their mouth if eaten too.
Which other festive plants can be poisonous to pets?
Now your Christmas tree might be safe enough, but unfortunately, there are other common festive plants which can be dangerous for dogs and cats.
- Mistletoe: It may be a festive tradition to have a quick peck on the lips when standing under the mistletoe, but it’s important to keep it out of reach of any pets as it can be quite poisonous. If your dog does manage to dig their chompers into any mistletoe then they might start drooling, get an upset tummy, have diarrhoea, or be sick.
- Holly berries: Holly berries are a staple in many Christmas wreaths, and while the spiky leaves are probably enough to deter your dog from eating them, they’re toxic to dogs if eaten. The same goes for your feline friends as even just a few holly and mistletoe berries could result in severe problems.
- Ivy: Ivy is another plant typically used as decoration at Christmas but if eaten by your pet it could result in an upset tummy or even severe irritation or allergic contact dermatitis if they brush their skin against it.
- Poinsettia: Poinsettia has long been said to be incredibly poisonous to pets, but while it definitely is toxic, it shouldn’t usually cause severe issues for your pet. However, its sap is still an irritant which can make cats and dogs dribble or have minor tummy problems. So, it’s still wise to make sure your pets can’t get their paws on it.
If you’re concerned that your pet has managed to eat something they shouldn’t, do go and see a vet as soon as possible.
How to keep your pets safe and calm at Christmas
For us, Christmas is the most joyous time of year, but the same doesn’t always go for our pets, and it can actually be quite stressful. If you want to keep your pets safe and calm over the festive season, here are some of our top tips:
1. Create a quiet corner
Your top priority should be making sure your pet feels comfortable, particularly if there are a lot of unfamiliar people over. For cats, they might need some hiding spots to go to, and dogs often enjoy having a corner with a bed and toys that they can go to undisturbed by everyone and everything.
2. Don’t stay out too late
Over the festive period, you might often be out and about Christmas shopping, going to parties or visiting families and friends. Whenever you are out of the house, keep an eye on the time and make sure not to leave your furry friends alone for too long.
3. Keep them warm, cosy, and dry
As Christmas gets closer, the days and nights get colder, so make sure your pets are kept warm and cosy with extra bedding. This is particularly important for any outdoor animals such as rabbits who will really feel the impact of freezing temperatures. Any enclosures should be kept clean and dry since wet bedding could freeze overnight and make them ill.
4. Hide any festive food and treats
It might be tempting to sneak your pets a treat or two under the table when the rest of the family are busy tucking into Christmas dinner, but a lot of our favourite foods can be poisonous to pets.
Instead, if you want something fun to do on a cold day, we’ve actually created a whole cookbook full of festive food for furry friends that you can give a go yourself.
Now you know all about how to prepare your pets for Christmas and keep them safe and calm! If you still haven’t sent out any cards yet, we’ve got a wonderful collection of RSPCA Christmas cards that you should really have a look at – plus, when you buy one of these cards, you’ll be supporting a good cause with £1 going to the RSPCA for each purchase, along with 5p for every other Christmas card sold.