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The 12 tips for Christmas with your pet

The 12 tips for Christmas with your pet

The trees are going up, the presents are being wrapped, the food preparations are beginning, and the excitement is escalating - Christmas is just around the corner!

The festive season provides many exciting opportunities for our furry friends too; decorations to play with, wrapping paper to hide in - the choices are endless! But what might be tempting treats can also be problematic. Here are 12 tips to help the Christmas period with your pets go smoothly.

1. Christmas trees

Having a fir or pine tree in the house is one of the wonders of the festive season. But it's worth bearing in mind that although they look lovely, they can be troublesome for pets. The oils in fir trees can be mildly toxic, causing stomach upsets, and the needles themselves can get stuck in your pet's paw or throat. Regularly sweep up needles and close the door of the tree room when you go out, to avoid any accidents.

2. Strings of lights

The fairy lights which dangle and adorn are tempting chew items for pets. Try to place them out of reach, and always turn the lights off when leaving your pet unattended.

3. Wrapping distractions

Keep the door shut when you are wrapping presents otherwise you might see your rabbit hopping away with that ribbon you have just spent time curling. Or the bow you are just about to stick on that present may suddenly be stalked by your cat in a game of pounce. If swallowed these items can cause many more problems than just a wrapping headache.

4. Dangling decorations

Baubles, tinsel and dazzling decorations hanging from the branches provide irresistible play opportunities for your pet. Be careful, as not only can your carefully decorated branches suddenly become bare, but tree decorations can be dangerous: chocolate is harmful to pets, so hang those yummy decorations out of reach; anything knocked off the tree can be swallowed by our inquisitive friends, and broken ornaments can get stuck in a paw.

5. Tempting treats

The smell of succulent turkey wafting from the kitchen is as irresistible to our pets as it is to us. Avoid leaving food anywhere in your pet's reach - you can't blame them if it's left unattended! But it's not just about protecting your Christmas dinner. Many foods we love can make pets unwell, and turkey bones can become stuck in their throat if swallowed.

6. Pretty plants

Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are Christmas favourites, bringing lots of festive cheer and colour into the home. However they are dangerous for pets; with varying levels of toxicity, the side effects depend on how much of the plant is consumed. Display out of reach to avoid any tummy troubles.

7. Antifreeze

With the onset of winter comes the inevitable frosts and ice, and for our four-legged friends, the smell of antifreeze is extremely alluring. But it is hugely toxic and can be fatal, so be careful not to spill any on the ground, and keep bottles out of reach - even the smallest amount can be dangerous.

8. Ornaments

'Tis the season to decorate your home with special Christmas ornaments. But remember, if your cat, dog or rabbit isn't used to its usual play spaces being filled with festive objects, they can be knocked over, nibbled, or even swallowed.

9. A busy house

Christmas time often means a busy home, with friends and family coming together in seasonal spirit. Remember that new faces and more noise can be scary for your pet, so it's a good idea to provide them with a safe room so they can escape and be put at ease if it all becomes too much. It's also important to maintain your pet's normal routines, especially with feeding and exercise, to avoid them becoming too unsettled.

10. Home comforts

As the snowflakes fall and the temperature drops, make sure that your cat, dog or rabbit has somewhere warm to sleep. Preparing your rabbit for winter is important: if your rabbit sleeps outdoors, make sure the hutch is waterproof, and be ready to bring him or her inside over the winter months too. And for your cat or dog, ensure they have somewhere warm and comfortable to come back to after they've been exploring in the elements.

11. Fire safety

A crackling fire is loved by many on a winter's day. But be careful if you have an open fireplace - your pet may not be used to it and may try to investigate too closely. Place any festive candles out of reach too, to avoid accidents.

12. Holiday blues

The festive season can be a chance to escape away on a well-earned holiday. But if you do go away, don't leave your pet for too long - our furry friends deserve the love and a share of the festive fun as much as we do. Spend time with them this winter - it is the perfect opportunity to crack open the pet games you've had for months. Read our guide about holidaying without your pet for more information if you are going away.

By following our Christmas tips, you can make the most of the wonderful festive season with your furry friends and avoid any potential problems.

Do you have any seasonal tips to share? How do you avoid pet problems during the festive season? Let us know in the box below.

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Hilary Spate
I always place chocolate tree ornaments and lights high but my cat has found a way around that by climbing up my artificial tree and push them off. The baubles get the same treatment. Herbie feels they should not be there. Its his space. My cards get the same treatment but he does love to play with tinsel think he likes the sound it makes. Now I hang my cards and decorations from the sealing. Now get them Herbie. Merry Christmas to all Pet lovers and not forgeting those cleaver Pets of ours.
Warning - Christmas lilies are really poisonous to cats. They cause fatal liver failure. My cat went into hospital earlier this year because she ate some lilies. They had to feed her charcoal, put her on a drip and take several blood tests. Very expensive vet bills, but worse than that, we didn't know if we were going to lose her. !!! Don't have Christmas lilies in your house if you own a cat !!!
irene nairn
no xmas cake as full of currants toxic to dogs
Alison Mitchell
I'd just like to say well done for setting out these safety points to people with pets. We haven't bought a tree as we have a new puppy and it just isn't a good idea to have one this year. There are some owners who might not be aware of these dangers and it could well save some pets lives having read this.
sara whitty
i would like to say we have a one year old dog now and she just can't cope with the christmas season, but with a lot of loving she seems to be ok, she have stuck with my son thomas, she hates the attention other was eating but focused of her now and she happy so please don't leave your pet out as it can be very distressing to them luv them
Sarah Watkinson
Hi,We brought home our second dog in July of this year and Stanley is now 7 months old.We've had the tree up for a couple of weeks now and he was curious but he hasn't touched the tree, the baubles or any of the decorations. He went in his crate whilst it went up and then he had a sniff and seemed content with that. Familiarising him at each part of the process seemed to have done the trick.I'm very impressed!!
Rosie Maudson
I am an old age pensioner with a 5month old jack russell he makes me feel so young the two of us are going to have a lovely Christmas and your tips have been noted thank you
Jayde Rosser
Hi pet lovers,I have a four soon to be five year old black Labrador sitting at home and every year she has been with us she has dealt with Christmas very well.To prevent any problems towards Christmas we have an artificial treeand our festival candles are kept well up high so her wagging tail can't knock them over.We always make sure Cjay is included in Christmasevery year, with a Christmas sack from Santa and extra presents from us.Make sure your pets have all the love and attention they need this Christmas.Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Jayde Rosser
Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!!!!!!
Rachel Rawlinson
We have a 4 year old border terrier, Lilly. We find that sticking to her regular routine, with normal feeding times and the usual walks that she is not unsettled during the festive season. Good idea to give your pet a place where they can escape the noise of Christmas day, I think I might join her to get some peace and quiet. We put the tree up in the conservatory so we can see it but Lilly is not tempted to play with it when home alone.Happy and safe Christmas to everyone @ Petplan.
We have always included our dogs in christmas fun, by giving them a very loosely wrapped toy to tear open under supervision on Christmas morning. They have enjoyed this so much over the years that on anyone birthday they also join in and help open birthday presents. We always take the dogs with us when we go to stay we family or friends and stick to their usual routines, and have not had any trouble. Everyone knows not to leave food and other things lying around, so to the dogs it is just a normal day but with more people and toys to play with.
Sylvia Rose
I have noticed that the decorative bows etc. to stick on gift wrappings (which my dog can't resist) often have metal staples in them, so don't be tempted to let them play with discarded wrappings after you have opened your presents.
Chris Thorn
Can I remind all that fireworks are let off around Christmas and especially around New Year. I never leave my Jack Russell on there own for more than 4 hours without a visit to let them out to do there business.
J Sim
How lovely! Most tips are the usual suspects but always worth a reminder. But I have to comment, making sure there is a peace escape for pets is essential, especially at this time of year and so often overlooked. Also the thought of, if you go away don't leave them for too long, they deserve to have your free time not just you work time, is lovely and so right. Thank you Petplan and Merry Christmas!
Bradley Elliot
i know i am late for this blog post but i am writing for all these pets who is out from there home :)
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Dominique Masson
Thank you for the tips over the Xmas period. Missy my staff cross who is now 7 enjoys having lots of tennis ball wrapped up in different towels and hidden in various places around the house, It keeps her busy while we are around the table and the time goes quicker for her while she waits for her long Xmas walk with all the family and well deserved Xmas treats which this year I will try your recipeJoyeux Noel
Judith MacBeth
Our 4 1/2 yr old 'failed' guide dog, Jenkins is so well behaved, Christmas doesn't really bother him. His routine is strictly adhered to, so he isn't put out. He had a serious bowel inflammation as a young puppy, and doesn't have human food; following discussion with our vet, his food regime suits him well. He was more affected by my changing the bed linen on his three beds today. Obviously its done regularly, but not usually all together, so it had to be carefully sniffed over when some of the usual covers went back - after which his look of approval was definitely a picture!
I think this website is very helpful. Especially for people that might have a younger pet and maby there first. We don't put chocolet on our tree at all because it's to risky.
Jean Bishop-Laggett
What a lovly set of ideas for Christmas Sebbie sends purrs too!
I am pleased to see the comments from other pet owners. The mention of flowers, Lillies is also dangeous to all pets so be careful.I find that the Thunder jacket is far the best item to have to keep your pets free of stress, better than collars or plugs as they ownley last a few weeks. Thunder jackets last a life time of your pet and are not as expensive.Hope I could be of help. Merry Christmas to and your pets.
Sylvia rose
Thanks for the tennis ball idea, I will definitely try that! So simple yet I never thought of it before. Just to say, no matter how many presents they get, dogs will not be happy unless they get a lovely walk on Christmas day :-)
We as a family have 6 Beautiful cats,and each year we have a real tree,with lights and cat friendly baubles,(that we have made ourselves.We always make sure our cats are happy at christmas,especially Boxing day thats cats Christmas day and they have their presents and treats and its all about them..We have read your blog,we are lucky that our decorations are keep to a minimal and the cats stockings hang by the fireplace(fire not on)as its warm in the house for their humans.Are cats have every thing they need,they are well fed but tell us when they are not,well loved and dont want for anything,they are family,and they sleep anywhere and everywhere even on us humans.give our cats a box and its a world of play and squabbles of whos in the box.
ann ashton
hellothank you for all your timely reminders on pet safety-my luscious lucy our old dog aged 12 (rescued when she was 8)well she took a fancy strangely enough to a xmas decoration which had faux apples on it covered with glitter! luckily we noticed before too much interest turned to savouring it! we moved it of course-but just shows even the most well behaved ..never touches a thing in the house can still get up to mischief! it was so out of character..take care have a lovely safe festive season and thank you Ann x

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