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It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the festive season can pose some dangers for our four-legged friends. While we’re all caught up in the many delights of the Christmas period, it’s important to keep an eye on what your pets are getting up to.

From seasonal foods to avoid to toys that may produce toxins and festive plants that are harmful, we’ve put together a list of the things for pet owners to watch out for during the festive period. So read on to find out how to keep your furry friends safe and make sure everyone has a happy Christmas.

Festive foods to avoid for cats and dogs

The festive season motto is “eat, drink and be merry”, so naturally Christmas food is always one of the highlights of this time of year. While we humans are indulging in everything from chocolate coins to mince pies, there are lots of treats that are actually toxic to both cats and dogs. While it’s tempting to save a bit of Christmas dinner and festive treats to give our furry friends, you need to make sure you’re aware of which foods pets can’t eat.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list and there are lots of ingredients that aren’t dog-safe. Check out our list of foods dogs can’t eat, and make sure to check before feeding your pet anything new.

What foods can you feed pets during the festive season?

While keeping cats and dogs out of the Christmas pudding, there are still plenty of seasonal treats that are great for pets. While it’s always recommended to stick to your pet’s normal diet as much as possible, here are some foods that are fine for pets to eat (in moderation) at Christmas time:

To avoid any potential toxins and make sure your furry family members still have a little treat, you might want to consider making edible decorations or pet-safe treats. You can easily find recipes online for treats made with at-home ingredients like bananas, peanut butter and oats.

Pet Separation Anxiety Dog

Christmas trees and festive plants

As well as the food on the Christmas Day table, some of the decorations you have around your house during the festive season can also be dangerous for pets.

Mistletoe, holly and ivy can also be highly toxic to dogs and cause stomach upsets. Other plants that are toxic for pets include poinsettias, amaryllis and yew. Ingesting these plants (both berries and leaves) can cause a number of issues ranging from a mild stomach upset to severe kidney failure in severe cases.

While real Christmas trees themselves are typically non-toxic varieties, the sharp tips of pine needles can get stuck in pets’ paws. If they’re eaten, they can also cause a stomach upset. You also need to keep an eye on the water at the base of your Christmas tree – any fertiliser or chemicals in the water could be harmful to pets if they drink it.

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Christmas decorations

For both artificial trees and real ones, you’ll also need to be mindful of hanging decorations. Things like chocolate coins or decorations – can be particularly toxic to dogs and cats. Even if it’s not food, hanging baubles or other tree decorations can be a choking hazard for pets. Pay particular attention to glass baubles, which can easily smash into sharp shards.

Other decorations like shiny tinsel and garlands can also be particularly tempting for cats in particular – which can of course cause both a fire hazard with fairy lights and the danger of the whole tree falling down! To avoid any accidents, it’s best where possible to try and supervise your pet around the Christmas tree.

Salt dough ornaments on the Christmas tree or scattered around the house can also be dangerous. The high salt content in the dough can cause serious neurological damage to dogs, so should be kept well out of reach or avoided altogether.

If you’re worried your pet has eaten a dangerous food, contact your local vet immediately. Find your nearest Animal Trust clinic here, and get in touch for more advice or consultations. 

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