christmas-dogIt’s the holiday season and you can’t wait to put Fido in a Santa hat and enjoy the festivities with him. But did you know some of the things we enjoy most about Christmas are no treat for our four legged friends? Here are a few ways to keep the holidays happy and healthy for our beloved pets.

One of the biggest holiday indulgences we all enjoy are sweet or high fat foods. And while Fido may be looking at you with those big brown eyes just pleading for a bit of your treat, foods high in fat can wreak havoc on your dog’s tummy.

A simple festive treat like fruitcake, which contains a lot of nuts, raisins and even alcohol, can cause serious health complications for your pets. Even everyone’s favorite, chocolate, contains theobromine, which is toxic to pets and can cause our furry friends to vomit, have diarrhea and even be fatal.

You may think a bone from your Christmas roast or turkey would be an ideal treat for your dog, but table scraps and bones often contain meat fat that can cause stomach upset and even pancreatitis.  Bones can splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.  Ouch, that’s certainly no Christmas gift!

As for your beautiful holidays decorations, better to let your pets admire them from afar. We all know dogs love their balls and cats love to play with string. But don’t let them confuse the decorations on the tree with their toys. Most are made of glass and synthetic materials, which not only can cause internal damage if swallowed, but if stepped on can cut their delicate paws. Those bright, sparkly lights can also attract your pets, but a chewed strand of lights can cause a fire hazard and major health concerns including cuts and burns to your pet. Always look for pet safe decorations so everyone can enjoy the splendor of the holidays without incident.

Your kids are not the only cheeky ones who may try to open their presents early! Keep all wrapped gifts out of reach of your pets, the ribbons, paper and bows if swallowed can also cause digestive obstruction and even poisoning.

Animals love to chew on grasses and leaves so be careful where you place your Christmas plants and flowers. A kiss under the mistletoe for Fido could lead to excessive drooling, digestive upset even heart problems and neurological issues. If you have cats avoid lilies at all costs. Cats are drawn to them and if eaten can cause kidney failure. Many other festive plants can be anything but for your pets, so opt for the fake ones and keep your pets safe and healthy.

If you’re lucky enough to have a home filled with friends and family for the holiday, remember your pets may not be as overjoyed as you are. Believe it or not guests can be one of the biggest hazards for pets during the holidays. Dogs love to beg for treats and young children love to reward them. Unfortunately the little ones often don’t know what Fido can or can’t eat. If you know you are having a large number of people in your home it’s a good idea to give your pets a quiet space of their own. For dogs even a good walk away from the action and while food is being served is a good idea. As for guests ask them to keep gifts, batteries, bags or other potentially chewable items off the floor and away from pets curious minds. A nosy pet can turn into a very sick one if it ingests anything it shouldn’t.

Most importantly if you suspect your pet has eaten or chewed something harmful, call your vet immediately and be ready to provide as much information as possible about what they ate.

Go ahead and deck the halls with boughs of holy, but just keep them out of reach from your pets. Follow these tips for a safe and happy holiday. Because Christmas should be enjoyed by everyone even our furry friends.
Dr. Amanda Roddam has 18 years experience treating Hong Kong pets.  She is the Owner and Chief Veterinary Surgeon at Kowloon Veterinary Hospital and is a strong advocate of rehoming animals. www.kowloon-vet-hospital.com