Christmas pet safety: trees, decorations, food and more

Christmas is often the most exciting time of the year for the family. The tree goes up with its baubles, lights, and tinsel, whilst the kitchen is filled with turkey, mince pies and plenty of festive booze.

However, what is all harmless fun for us, can present a problematic situation for our pets.

Here are Petplan’s Christmas safety tips to ensure you avoid any unwelcome mishaps when it comes to your pet…

Making your Christmas tree safe for your pets

Most types of Christmas trees are low toxicity but may cause a mild tummy upset (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) if chewed. Pine needles in themselves can get stuck in paws and cause irritation as well as potentially causing irritation or perforation of the intestines if eaten. Vacuum daily and keep the door to the room with your tree in shut when your pet is unsupervised.

Also, be aware that some artificial trees will have small pieces and decorations that can break off and cause intestinal blockage if ingested by your pet. Ensure any tree you buy is sturdy and fixed firmly to the floor or out of reach on a table.

Pets get especially excited when they see dangling baubles and brightly coloured tinsel and sometimes the temptation for them to play with them can be too much.

Ensure smaller decorations are kept out of sight from your pet and are placed higher up the tree so they are not in danger of swallowing them.

Ideally ensure baubles are shatter proof as if ingested splinters or shards can cause irritation, perforation or blockages . Although tinsel is not toxic to pets, if ingested it can bunch up in the stomach causing blockages, so be sure to place it higher up the tree along with the lights.

Cyclamen plants are very common for Christmas décor and are chosen for their beauty and authenticity at Christmas.

However, if ingested this particular plant can cause illness in a cat or dog due to the irritating saponins in the plant. They could experience an upset tummy, excessive drooling or even heart problems, seizures and death in some incidences depending on the amount ingested.

Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all also mildly toxic to cats and dogs and can cause vomiting, drooling and diarrhoea – so should be kept out of reach.

Rose bowls and rose tins and also tulips are a lovely Christmas alternative if you are worried about your pet.

Safe Christmas light tips for pet owners

Pets often have a fascination with bright lights and flashes due to their innate predatory behaviour. However, a bit of harmless excitement can lead to your pet's behaviour becoming erratic. If you see this and it continues, it would be wise to keep the lights out of close contact with your pet.

More of an obvious issue with dangling lights is just that - they dangle. Lights placed on the lower branches are not only a tangle and burn hazard for your pet, but they may also get a nasty shock if they chew through the electrical cable! To reduce the risk, tape the wire to the wall or floor.

What food can my pet eat at Christmas?

While it may be tempting to slip our pets an extra festive treat under the dinner table, there are many Christmas foods that are toxic to our pets. Chocolate, onions, nuts, blue cheese, fruit cakes, puddings and mince pies can all be toxic to dogs and cats.

Turkey bones can also be harmful as they can become lodged in the throat, splinter causing damage to the mouth, or block and perforate the intestines. So don’t give them bones from the Christmas turkey – no matter how much they plead.

However, there’s a good chance they would appreciate a little bit of turkey breast!

Do you have any other helpful Christmas hints and tips for pet owners? Leave a comment below…