Christmas parties, family, friends and plenty of merriment, a wonderful time for humans and animals alike… BUT BEWARE hidden amongst those twinkling fairy lights, tinsel glazed hallways, sprigs of holly, ivy and mistletoe many dangers are lurking for our furry friends!
Whilst we humans get into the festive spirit and enjoy the fun our pets should proceed with caution; with so many tempting treats, gifts, flora and fauna, accidental poisoning or over indulgence can not only ruin your Christmas but can be life threatening to your pets!
Holiday Hazards to avoid:
• CHOCOLATE – along with grapes, dried fruit, onions, alcohol, nuts and holiday meal leftovers – can all be toxic to our pets.
• POT PORRI – candles, wrapping paper and decorations – can be very dangerous for our four-legged friends.
• POINSETTIA – and Holly, Mistletoe, Ivy, Christmas trees and (for cats in particular) Lilies can cause serious illness for our companions.
• CHEMICALS – MOST household cleaners are potentially fatal – In particular anti-freeze (VERY poisonous but tempting for CATS & DOGS with its sweet smell and taste), bleach, screen-wash (contains anti-freeze) and plant food are all worth locking away.
A very useful source of information can be found at the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (https://vpisglobal.com/)
Having by passed the gauntlet of Poisons & Hazards you come to the wonderful British weather – Snow and frost; thunder, lightening and rain leading to flooding; along with the possibility of power loss are just a few situations to consider. Getting into the habit of checking your warm, recently parked car BEFORE you drive off is sensible – a tempting haunt for your (or your neighbour’s) cat looking for a warm hidey hole! Hypothermia, ice burn and frost bite are real issues that need to be thought about when it comes to our pets after those long winter walks.
Below are some handy cold weather tips for your animals – big and small:
• Be sure to wrap up Short-haired breeds and elderly dogs who really feel the cold.
• Keep your dog’s bed away from draughts to ensure they stay cosy.
• Rinse and dry your dog’s paws after winter walks to stop them licking their paws sore, due to irritation from the salt left by road gritters. Ingesting this salt can lead to dehydration and in severe cases liver problems.
• Trim any long hair between your dog’s toes to prevent ice, snow and salt sticking to their fur.
• Do not leave your dog unattended in the car in cold weather, temperatures can drop very quickly!
• Keep away from frozen lakes or rivers when out and about; if you think your dog will be tempted to run onto the ice keep them on a lead.
• Make sure your cat has a cosy bed to sleep in away from any draughts or cold spots.
• Ensure your cat has access to a litter tray at all times if reluctant to toilet outside in the cold.
• Check their cat flap is not blocked or frozen shut from heavy snow or a hard frost.
Rabbit and Guinea Pig Tips:
• Rabbits are naturally designed to live outdoors and cope well with cold weather. Even so you should still make sure their hutch and run is protected from the elements, and perhaps provide a little extra insulation. Keep their bedding and food topped up as well as checking their water regularly as it can freeze over.
• Guinea pigs do not cope well with the cold and need to be moved into a shed or outbuilding to provide extra shelter, garages are not recommended if you keep a car in them as the fumes can be highly dangerous. On warmer, brighter days they are ok to use an outside run, as long as they can get up off the cold ground. Elderly guinea pigs maybe better off indoors. Their claws will need extra trimming if they have not been outside in a while.
• Most field animals are very hardy and designed to cope with the elements. Providing them with a shelter to get out of the bad weather – keeping warm and dry; some extra hay and checking their water sources haven’t frozen solid is a good idea.
Horse and Donkey Tips:
• Keep an eye on your horses’ rugs, temperatures can change quickly!
• Should we have heavy snow your horse may not be able to get to the grass, by giving them extra hay you can ensure they don’t go hungry.
• Water buckets and auto drinkers may freeze up in cold conditions; check your horses’ and donkey’s have access to fresh water. A couple of tennis balls in the water trough can help prevent them from freezing.
• Riding in icy and frosty conditions is not recommended due to slipping and cars not having full control.
• By greasing the underside of your horses feet you can prevent snow packing in them, these should be checked and picked out at least twice daily.
• Though cold conditions can be an issue, should it warm up a bit, snow or frost melt can mean soggy ground which can lead to mud fever, keep an eye on your horses and call the Vet if you are concerned.
We hope these chilly bits of advice help keep your animals safe and snug this winter!