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1st December 2012

Silent Bite!

The baubles Britain’s pooches can’t resist

Hoping to ensure pet owners make the most of Christmas with their pets this year, Petplan, the UK's largest pet insurer, has enlisted a panel of pooches to test doggy durability and hound appeal of Christmas tree decorations. Our four legged friends road tested popular tree decorations to help pet owners avoid any emergency vet visits and to ensure popular adornments are kept at leaps length from furry friends.

Introducing the Pooch Panel

Pooch Panel

The Bauble Breakdown

Five of the most popular types of tree decorations were lined up and given to the dogs individually to see how they would react to the festive selection. They were carefully watched to see which ornament was played with the most and which were the most durable. The pooch panel chewed, pawed and pounced on the most appealing tree trimmings, making some unanimous decisions and proving that certain tree decorations should be handled with care by pet owners looking for a relaxing Christmas.

Top of the Pups: The most alluring decorations

  1. Noisy 'Jingle Bell' decorations
  2. Edible candy canes
  3. Natural pine cone decorations
  4. Fabric /felt soft decorations
  5. Baubles

Food based decorations would seem like an obvious pet favourite, but in our test it was the noisy jingle bell ornament that proved the most attractive. With one dog attempting a quick getaway with the tinkling bells in tow, this is definitely a decoration for further up your tree. The next decoration was the Christmas classic - candy canes. The canine noses quickly sniffed them out as something tasty to chew on, however human food should not be given to animals and can even be toxic. Third was natural pine cones; their tactile nature proved too tantalising with several being crunched beyond repair on site. Unexpectedly the soft toy material/felt decorations only came in at number four in the canine curiosity stakes, followed by the baubles coming in last place. This was despite the similarity to some soft dog toys and the familiar ball like shape usually so loved by dogs.

So when it comes to doggy durable decorations it's best to keep it simple. Shatterproof baubles and fabric decorations being the best choice for pet owners looking to avoid a potential topple of the tree. However, the noisy decorations did pass the doggy durability test and if owners want to stop mutts munching on things they shouldn't, candy canes and pine cones are best left out of reach.

Petplan vet Brian Faulkner commented on the results: "It's understandable that noisy, tasty decorations will pique a dog's interest, however behind this fun experiment is a serious message. Pets are part of Christmas too and the sudden appearance of new sights and smells will stimulate them to investigate new things. We need to remember that pets don't know what's hazardous and what's not. They also won't think twice about destroying your perfectly decorated tree if there is something on it that interests them. We need to remember it's our responsibility to ensure potential hazards are kept away from prying pooches."

Christmas Dos & Don'ts

Petplan's top tips and advice for a hassle free festive period with your pet:

  • If using tinsel (which when ingested can cause serious health problems and even require surgery) follow this hanging height formula:
  • Lowest tinsel hanging height = x2 the height of your dogs paw to shoulder length
  • Avoid mistletoe and holly in your home completely as they are poisonous to pets
  • Keep pets away from the tree when you are not home or in the room to supervise. Cats are notorious Christmas tree climbers!
  • If using fairy lights, don't string them along the bottom of your tree, some types can get hot and pets are at risk from burns to enquiring noses and paws
  • Look for baubles labelled 'shatterproof' - glass ornaments can break if knocked off and cut your pet.
  • Avoid leaving edible/alcoholic decorations in easy reach – chocolate is especially dangerous as it is poisonous to dogs
  • Be wary of food thefts – Christmas turkey carcases or ham joints pose obstruction or choking hazards. Make sure any rubbish is securely disposed of

Isabella von Mesterhazy, Head of Marketing at Petplan comments: "Pets are an integral part of our lives and Christmas is no exception. We know from the over £13 million that we paid out for claims in December last year that our pets are at risk throughout the Christmas period, so it's an important that we all take extra care. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and stress of Christmas and forget even the simplest safety measures. Just following a few tips can make the festive period more pet friendly."

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

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