Give your small friend a Friendly Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful, happy time and nothing says Christmas like decorations. Owning small friends we all need to be specifically aware of their safety, especially when we are decorating our tree and house, “decorating” our small friend, and entertaining.

Here are some decorating hazards to be aware of:

  • Keep tinsel, hooks, wrapping paper and other decorations away from your small friends. If swallowed, these Christmas specials can cause choking, intestinal obstruction, digestion problems and/or serious internal injuries.
  • Be careful with glass ornaments that can break and subsequently be stepped on and become embedded in your small friends’ paws.
  • Anchor your Christmas tree firmly so your small friends cannot knock it over. Or in the case of our feline small friends make sure it is stable enough to take their weight if they do decide to jump onto it.
  • Keep decorations out of your small friends’ reach by not placing decorations on the bottom few branches, and keeping your decorations away from platforms where they may be able to get to e.g. mantelpiece.
  • Hang your Christmas stockings high enough to stay out of reach of your small friends paws and/or mouths.
  • Remove or trim any branches that are at your small friends’ eye level to avoid any eye injury.
  • Tape down or hide electric cords to avoid them being chewed.
  • Be aware that many of the festive season plants are toxic to pets: including mistletoe, holly, poinsettia etc. Also the chemicals that are used to keep plants, flowers and Christmas trees fresh is also harmful so be sure they cannot drink this water.
  • If you are going to light candles around your home, NEVER leave your small friend alone in a room with one. Keep candles out of your small friend’s reach, even if you are near them. It only takes a split second and a quick whip of the tail…
  • Keep your chocolate advent calendars well away from your small friend. Like some humans, small friends can smell this sweet goodness from 50 paces and even small amounts of chocolate can be toxic to our small friends.

Of course for some of us small friend owners it is not just the tree we like to decorate. ‘Decorating’ small friends can really put the rest of the family in the spirit. There is nothing cuter than Gerald in his Christmas “clobber” (see below). Reindeer ears, bowties, santa’s outfit, hats and scarfs should only be worn under direct supervision. Our small friends may decide to start chewing these special outfits and before you know it Christmas become less about filling your belly than about having your small friend’s belly emptied by one of our vets.

Also be aware that any clothing may be just too hot for our small friends to wear all Christmas Day. It doesn’t take much for our small friends to overheat in our Canberra summer heat so pop these Christmas numbers on for the photos and then put ‘small friend safety’ first.

When entertaining during the Christmas season be sure that your guests are aware that your small friend should not eat or drink human food.

  • Never give alcohol to an animal, even small doses can be toxic to our small friends. Be sure any unfinished alcoholic beverages are left out of your small friend’s reach.
  • Ensure that snacks are also out of your small friend’s reach, especially chocolate which is toxic to our small friends.
  • Turkey and other cooked bones should not be consumed by our small friends as they can cause choking or may splinter and cause serious intestinal and internal injury to your small friend.
  • Ham and ham fat should not be fed to small friends. It may taste good to them, but the high levels of fat can cause pancreatitis, a potentially fatal condition.

Just with a few basic steps and a little forward planning Christmas can be a truly relaxing and safe time for the whole family. Enjoy!