Pets at Christmas!
Christmas is around the corner and getting closer and closer, and with it, new environments and people for your pets, along with the the hot summer months! It's important to make sure that your little (and not-so-little) pals are comfortable and safe in this busy and sometimes overwhelming season for them. Below are some tips and answers to some of the questions we get around this time each year.
Christmas Trees and Decorations
Putting up the tree and covering it with baubles while someone tosses tinsel around the house is a classic part of Christmas. But as many of us have experienced, dogs will eat almost anything under the sun (especially if they look like bright, round treats!), and some cats tend to start fights with the bright lights and colours of the tree!
How to Help
For dogs, using a doggy gate or fence around the tree when you're not around can keep them back and away from the presents and tree. Keep your wrapping paper and ribbons carefully stored away where they can't be reached, and be sure to clean up after the presents are opened on Christmas morning!
For cats, keeping the ornaments higher on the tree reduces the chance of a kitty boxing match. Try to keep the tree away from vantage points that they can leap from can also be a good idea. It's best to have the cat in the room while you put up the decorations, to make sure they're comfortable with the structure that's been freshly erected in the living room - and check that the tree is stable and secure, so it won't topple in the worst case scenario!
Houseguests and Stressed Pets
Christmas is a great time of year to go on holidays or have family and friends over for a good old Christmas BBQ, but for pets, this can be a very stressful period, coping with new people, children, and crowds.
How to Help
If you're headed off for a holiday, it's great to get a friend to come and pet-sit while you're away. Otherwise, you can have someone come by your house twice a day to check up, feed, and walk your pet, or even give them their own little holiday at a kennel like Samford Pet Resort.
If you're having a gathering, it's important to:
Exercise them beforehand, so they are happy and tired
Give them their own quiet, safe space where they can relax and unwind
Have someone (who isn't in charge of supervising the kids) keep a dedicated eye on the dog
Teach any children who aren't used to pets to let your pet approach them, then gently pet their back
Unlike our friends in the northern hemisphere, we don't get a white Christmas, but rather a summer of hot weather and fun in the sun. But this can be a big problem for our pets, as they can't sweat to cool off! Double-coated dogs such as huskies, retrievers, collies, and even Pomeranians can really be feeling the heat around this time of year. And since dogs and cats cool down by breathing, rather than sweating, breeds like pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, and Persians and Himalayans can be in particular trouble.
How to Help
Take your pet to a groomer for a haircut or a de-shed, this will avoid the unnecessary heat, but also maintain the top coat to keep them insulated. Avoid excessive exercise, especially in the middle of the day - try lighter exercise alternatives, or exercise earlier in the morning/later in the afternoon. Also make sure to give them plenty of shade and access to a light breeze.
Ice in water bowls or as treats is okay, or you can even freeze toys to chew on, but don't give your pets ice baths, as this can send them into shock!
Fighting Dog and Cats
Family and friends bringing their dogs around to gatherings is fun and can be a good alternative to leaving them at home, but a dog in another pet's territory can be a Cold War able to turn hot at any moment.
How to Help
It's safest to pay close attention to them, especially when they first interact, and keeping the toys out of reach of all dogs especially. The biggest cause of conflict between dogs is food, so make sure to feed them in separate rooms, and ask guests not to feed them any scraps.
Christmas dinner always ends with the family eating ham for breakfast on New Year's day, but although sharing the plethora of food with your dog sounds tempting, it's important to know what's safe and what isn't - nobody wants a Boxing Day trip to the emergency vet.
Toxic foods to avoid: chocolate (especially dark and baking chocolate), onions and garlic, raisins and grapes (keep the Christmas pudding away!), macadamia nuts and other tree nuts, and Avocados. A full list can be found on our toxic foods page.
High fat foods like ham, skins, and rinds or crackling can cause pancreatitis, nausea, and tummy pain, so be sure to only feed your pets very small amounts of what they have had before and you know is safe.
Don't give your dog cooked bones or bones small enough to fit in their mouth, and supervise them while they have them.
Update Your Pets' Microchips!
In the chaos of Christmas time, it's easy for pets to get out and lost around the neighbourhood, and too often, we get strays come in with outdated or non-existent chip details. Updating is free and easy to do, just come into Morningside Vet and check it has your address, then update through the city council and microchip registry! Or, if you have your microchip number, you can use websites such as petaddress.com.au to check your details there.