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Christmas with Pets Q&A with Dr Charlie

How do I keep my pet safe during the festivities?

Christmas Day can be a bit overwhelming for pets if you have a whole crowd over and there's lots of noise and excitement. But there are several steps you can take to ensure that your pet, your guests, and you all enjoy the day as much as possible. It is important to make sure your pet has a safe space away from the noise and hubbub to retreat should they need a quiet moment. It can also help to exercise your pet before the guests arrive, so they are calmer during the day.

What are the foods to steer clear of?

Unfortunately many of our festive foods are toxic to dogs or high in fat which can lead to pancreatitis. Some of the main foods not to feed your pets this season include grapes/raisins, coffee, alcohol, macadamia nuts, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, avocado, christmas ham, cooked bones, onions or garlic.

However it's great to involve your pet in the spirit of Christmas. How about try your hand at baking some dog biscuits- but still only given in moderation.

Delightful/Dangerous Decorations

Pets can get up to mischief around your decorations. Some common problem areas can be electrical cords which can be chewed, particularly by young puppies. Ribbons, string and wrapping paper can all seem like toys to pets but can easily be ingested, potentially causing very serious complications. Christmas tree decorations can also pose a hazard and should be placed out of reach particularly baubles and candy canes.

What are some fun pet gifts?

For cats, my favourite cat toy is called da bird. Although it's a thing on a string, it has a unique swivel mechanism which I find engages cats far better than other similar toys. In terms of treats for cats, I have found that Dine Creamy Treats are really popular. I really like the snuffle mats and Kong Classics for dogs, and good for engaging them over a longer period and making them work for their food.

Fun food ideas to involve your pet in the Christmas cheer.

Dog Biscuit Recipe- a big hit with our dogs!

3 cups wholemeal flour

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

2 eggs

400g pumpkin diced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

a pinch of salt.

1. Preheat oven to 180° Celcius.

2. Boil diced pumpkin for approx 15 mins or until soft then puree/mash, and allow to cool a little.

3. Mix together the dry ingredients.

4. Beat together the wet ingredients and slowly add the dry ingredients while beating until it forms a dough.

5. Roll out the dough between baking paper to apporx 5mm thick. You may need to flour the paper a little.

6. Cut out the biscuits and place on tray.

7. Bake for 30-40 mins.

Store 1-2 days in a sealed container.

What if I'm going away?

Traditionally kennels and catteries can offer many advantages while you go on holidays. Things to be aware of with this option are that often these environments can be noiser or have unfamiliar smells and sounds. They are not best suited to nervous pets. An alternative can be pet sitting or visiting. Pet sitting is where someone comes and lives in your house full time with your pet while pet visiting means a sitter comes and visits your house once or twice a day and spends a little time with your pet (suitable for cats only). The advantages of this are that your pet stays in their comfortable home environment.

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