sandy snow screengrab

Keeping Your Pet Happy & Healthy At Christmas

Read our top tips

The festive season is full of an array of sparkly items and delicious food – a real temptation for your pet! Make sure your festive season is pet-proofed to avoid any accidents or more serious incidents.

Remember to check your local surgery opening hours and where you can see a vet in an emergency outside of these times.

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  • Keep baubles, tinsel and gift wrap out of reach as if they are ingested they can result in intestinal issues.
  • Make sure your pet can escape the excitement of a festive event and retreat to their bed in a quiet area.
  • Ensure there is a fireguard in front of the fire.
  • Be sure to keep fairy lights away from all pets, especially small furries who like to chew. Chewing through cables can end up in a nasty electric shock!

To us, it is hard to tell what’s inside a wrapped gift, but a box of chocolates is no secret to your dog as they can sniff out food regardless of the wrapping paper. Remember chocolate is toxic to your dog so always put edible presents safely out the way to avoid emergency vet visits over Christmas. 

Read more about chocolate poisoning

Dispose of any leftover string or ribbon after present wrapping, your pet might eat it before you’ve had a chance to clear it away, which can lead to serious complications.

Rabbits are notorious chewers, biting through anything from cables to carpet. If you’re gift wrapping and have string, ribbon or bows on the floor be aware these can be tempting to your rabbits and if they do eat them it can cause internal blockages, choking or become wrapped around their neck.

Read more about pet poisons

Do you know some festive plants are poisonous to animals? Popular Christmas plants holly and mistletoe, along with their berries, are toxic to pets if ingested.

Although most species of Christmas tree are low in toxicity, they could cause a stomach upset if chewed. Clean up fallen Christmas tree needles so that they don’t get stuck in paws

Cats are most at risk to lilies causing kidney failure, and mistletoe can affect both dogs and cats. Small amounts cause stomach upsets and breathing problems whereas large amounts can cause seizures and even be fatal.

Always display these safely out of reach of any pets. Signs of poisoning include excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. If your pet has any of these signs, visit a vet straight away.

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Festive food hazards

We all want to treat our pets, but over-indulgence in unfamiliar foods or fatty gravies can cause gastroenteritis. Chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, grapes, sultanas, raisins and alcohol are all toxic to pets (so keep that Christmas pudding out of reach!). Small bones can splinter off and get stuck in your pet’s intestines, so never allow your pet to chew on them.
mr bear xmas (1)

Winter watch outs

Despite their fur, cats, dogs and small furries can feel the cold just the same as humans do, and freezing temperatures can create problems if you’re not prepared during the chilly months. Antifreeze, grit and snow are just some of the things we need to be careful of during the chilly months.


Sound sensitivities, including fireworks, are very common in dogs and reactions range from mild to extreme. Although loud noises can alarm cats they are not thought to suffer from sound sensitivities as dogs do, the problem for cats is the changes to their environment or routine when they are outside less than normal.
dog hiding under blanket looking scared

Christmas FAQs

Yes they can be, if ingested. They can cause stomach upsets and also minor injuries due to the spikiness of the pines.

If you do go for a real tree, then cover the water so your pet doesn't drink from it. Another option is to get a tree container that has a built-in cover.

We all want to treat our pets, but over-indulgence in unfamiliar foods or fatty gravies can cause gastroenteritis. The following foods are all toxic to pets:

  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Sultanas and raisins

Small bones can also splinter off and get stuck in your pet’s intestines, so never allow your pet to chew on them.

For a full list of foods that are toxic to pets click here.

Here are our top tips for keeping rabbits and small furries warm this winter:

  1. Consider bringing them inside, but not next to a radiator and not in a greenhouse or conservatory due to temperature changes
  2. Hutches should be raised off the ground to prevent the base becoming damp
  3. Provide extra bedding regularly and make sure to keep it dry so it doesn’t freeze overnight

If you do think that your dog has eaten chocolate, it is very important to call your local Vets4Pets. Signs can be slow to appear, so contacting your vet to discuss a course of action is critical.  

They can assess the risk from the chocolate your pet has or may have, consumed and advise if you need to bring your pet in or monitor at home. 

Whilst some cats dislike the smell of citrus, many are not bothered at all and putting orange peels all around your Christmas tree won’t stop them investigating it at all.

Instead, take a look at our top tips for cat proofing your Christmas tree here.

Grit and salt on your dog's paws can make them sore, so it is important to wash it off. It can also make them poorly if they lick it off, so always rinse your pup's paws after walks. Another option is dog boots, but not all dogs will tolerate this.

Read more expert pet advice

From healthy diets to preventing fleas, find free and helpful pet health and training advice to care for your pet.

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