How to keep your pets happy and healthy – Forbes Advisor UK

This is the most wonderful time of year, but pet owners need to be especially vigilant in these heady days of pine needles and eggnog.

The Linnaeus Veterinary Group is warning pet owners to be aware of the dangers of Christmas that could result in an emergency vet visit for their animals during the holiday season.

Linnaeus veterinarian and primary care medical director Dr Simon Hayes says Christmas can present several potential problems for pets as homes are decorated for the season and a tempting array of food is often left lying around.

Drinking, too, can be dangerous – and a Christmas classic, like cream liqueurs – can be especially daunting for animals.

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Christmas minefield

Dr Hayes says, “Christmas can be a bit of a minefield for pet owners. For example, dogs drink most forms of alcohol left in glasses, so people should be careful not to leave drinks where their pets can easily access them.

“If this happens, the signs of ethanol poisoning are similar to those seen in humans: vomiting, depression, lack of coordination, disorientation and drowsiness. Dogs with these conditions need immediate warmth, rehydration, and nursing care.

Foods that should be on pet owner’s radar include grapes, raisins, currants, and raisins, which can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats, as well as macadamia nuts, onions raw foods and foods such as nuts, bread, and cheese, all of which can be harmful.

Other items that pose risks to pets include ribbons on gifts, garlands, sharp tree needles, fairy lights, chestnuts, and chocolate, which are often one of the most common causes visit to the veterinarian.

Pets4Homes experts note other hidden dangers:

Blue cheese is rich and fatty and likely to cross your dog. Such cheese may contain blue mold, known as roquefortin C. It is a mycotoxin, or fungal poison, which is not present in sufficient quantity to be dangerous to humans, but which can seriously affect dogs. Keep all dirty dishes out of your dog’s reach and avoid snacks under the table.

Homemade paste ornaments have a concentration of salt that makes them toxic to dogs and can lead to salt toxicosis, which can be fatal. Keep your dog safe by placing these ornaments high on the tree or entirely out of your dog’s reach.

Many gifts and ornaments require disposable batteries, and some dogs consider them edible or a chew toy. This is very dangerous and can lead to many different problems, from internal blockages to lead poisoning to acid burns. Keep batteries away from your dog.

Plants like mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and ivy, all of which can cause an upset stomach, are other party items that can cause damage, while lilies can be quite harmful to cats.

Beware of overindulgence

And just because overeating is the norm for many of us at Christmas, it doesn’t translate to pets. Dr. Tammie King, Animal Behavior Specialist at Mars Petcare, says, “Avoid overfeeding your pet. We all love to binge during the holiday season, but certain foods, especially those high in fat such as sausages, hams, cheeses, butter, and creams, can be of great concern to pets. they are fed in large quantities and can lead to pancreatitis.

“Keep foods out of reach to prevent them from stealing your turkey before the big day and ending up at the vet with serious medical problems. Always have the contact details of an emergency vet on hold during the vacation period.

It is not only what the animal may consume that needs to be taken into account when it comes to its general well-being, as Dr King points out: restlessness in the family home that can cause harm. disorders in some pets.

“Alleviate the stress your pets may be feeling by respecting their space, allowing them to retreat if they wish, such as a comfy den / crate / bed for your dog in another room, or a raised, enclosed area. sleeping station with cozy bed for your cat.

“Allow your pet to make choices if it wants to engage with people. Don’t force interactions. Pay attention to the body language of pets. Familiarize yourself with what your pet is trying to tell you through their body posture, vocalizations, and / or facial expressions.

“A lot of people like to dress their pets in fancy clothes during the holiday season, but it can cause discomfort and distress for many animals. Instead, give your pet a chew or a long lasting toy when you plan to go out, so that they have something fun to do while you are away.

Maintain routines

It is also important to maintain familiar routines and to give the animal the attention and affection to which it is accustomed. Dr King adds, “Maintain regular walks, meal times and play sessions. Take the time to interact with your pet and make them feel special.

“If you are traveling with your pet, consider their needs and personal belongings. Bring enough food and medicine, as well as familiar items such as toys and bedding.

Dr Hayes adds, “Christmas can often be a busy and quite chaotic time. You can help your pet cope with chaos by keeping their normal routine and, if you’re spending Christmas Day with your family away from home, taking your pet with something that smells good to help them feel safe. security.

The social component can be particularly tricky for cats. Claire Bessant, Managing Director of International Cat Care, says: “Not all cats are relaxed with a lot of people, and not all cats will benefit from more attention. If you know your cat is anxious or fearful, think ahead and provide places to get away from everyone else, which can be a safe haven until normalcy returns.

“Make it available before people arrive, so the cat knows where it can go.” Provide additional litter boxes as needed so the cat doesn’t have to venture into or through high-traffic areas to get to the box or its food.

“If you don’t, the cat may find a safe place to urinate or defecate – which may not prove popular.”

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Festive feline

Regarding cats and Christmas, Ms Bessant says they need to be safe and happy: “For safety reasons we think about having poisonous plants or berries in the house, dangerous toys or balls, or foods that can cause harm.

“Cats are probably much less likely to eat chocolate or raisins, which can be very dangerous for a greedy dog, but if you know you have a cat that likes unusual food then you know you just have to. be a little careful.

“Kittens are more likely to climb on the Christmas tree, pull it down, or remove decorations, so it may be wise to leave more breakable decorations out or place them high up. Berries that appear to be firmly attached to the displays can dry out during the holidays and fall off and become something to play with, so just check and brush them off.

Likewise, gifts often come with wrappers that contain sachets of silica or can be filled with pieces of foil that sparkle and sparkle and that can be ingested by kittens.

“If you think about what’s dangerous for babies and toddlers, think carefully about it for your cat. Keep in mind that cats can climb in areas that would be beyond children. Take into account the age and level of activity and the temptation this can represent for a curious cat.

Current voltage

Whether or not a pet makes a good Christmas present is a tricky question, but experts are generally against the idea. Dr King says, “I am against buying pets as Christmas gifts, especially if the recipient of the gift has no idea what they are about to receive. A pet is an important commitment that requires careful consideration on the part of potential pet parents.

Bill Lambert, Kennel Club health and wellness expert, says, “Buying a puppy is a huge decision and all future owners should do the proper research and have all the facts in order to make an informed decision. .

“We know there has been an increase in demand for puppies during the pandemic. The current mismatch between supply and demand can lead to more people being duped by dishonest herders and con artists, and inadvertently feeding low-welfare herders. “

Government data confirms this:

  • Less than half (43%) of dog or cat owners in the UK visited the seller in person at the pet’s home when researching their recent pet purchase.
  • More than one in 10 (12%) pet buyers have not done any research before visiting their puppy or kitten for the first time.
  • Less than a third (31%) of dog and cat owners are very confident that they can spot the signs of a poor welfare puppy or kitten seller.

In addition, a survey of members of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) found that almost two-thirds (68%) of pet owners were unaware that clinical signs and behavioral behavior of their animal could be linked to poor welfare. practices.

Professor Christine Middlemiss, Chief Government Veterinarian, said: “Christmas can be a difficult time to move a pet to a new home, and it is extremely important that people not only research what breed of animal they are. they want it, but also the person selling it. for them.

“Puppies and kittens raised under conditions of low welfare can often be separated from their mothers too soon, which can lead to serious health and behavior problems, heartache and high vet bills for their newborn. family. We urge people to be vigilant and to always thoroughly research animal sellers before making contact. “

Government urges people not to buy animals as gifts

The government is running a ‘Don’t Get Caught by Animals’ campaign to urge the public not to buy animals at Christmas and, in any event, to vet the seller to make sure they are legitimate and that the animal is not the product of a puppy farm. or illegal trade.

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