Making Christmas merry for those furry family members

RELAX: A little careful planning can make Christmas stress-free for everyone.
RELAX: A little careful planning can make Christmas stress-free for everyone.

The holidays are sneaking up on us, and it's time to start thinking about how you can make the festive season truly joyous, and more importantly, safe for your dog and/or cat.

Read on to find out how to plan for the holidays and your pets.

Keep those decorations from becoming dangerous

We all love to have our houses looking nice and festive for the silly season, but some of the most popular decorations can pose hazards for our pets.

Keep dangling baubles and tinsel away from your cats or dogs - if they mistake them for toys, they risk choking or injuring themselves if a plastic or glass ornament breaks in their mouths, or a gastrointestinal obstruction if they swallow something like an ornament or tinsel.

Similarly, make sure there's no way for your pets to chew on fairy lights, as they may get an electric shock!

If your cat is a climber, try and create a boundary to prevent them from attempting to climb the Christmas tree, as they may destabilise it and end up pulling it down on top of themselves.

Don't cave in to those puppy dog eyes

It might feel especially hard to resist a begging dog at the Christmas dinner table, when you're full of tasty food and good cheer - but lots of common Christmas food can actually be toxic to dogs and cats.

For example, alcohol, avocado, chocolate, Christmas pudding, currants, grapes, macadamia nuts, onion and more, can all pose serious risks to your animals.

Refrain from feeding them ham, pork or bacon which are high in salt and fat, and cooked bones of any sort are a complete no-no as they can splinter when chewed and cause serious internal damage.

In addition, food safety is just as important for pets as it is for humans, so make sure meat is cooked thoroughly to avoid potential e.coli infections.

As a general rule, avoid feeding your pets human food in any case, as their diets need to be properly balanced and based on high quality commercial pet food, in order to provide for their nutritional needs.

If you do want to treat your pets, consider purchasing a healthy, delicious and special treat for them that's designed for dogs or cats, just for Christmas day.

Keep dangling baubles and tinsel away from your cats or dogs - if they mistake them for toys, they risk choking or injuring themselves if a plastic or glass ornament breaks in their mouths, or a gastrointestinal obstruction if they swallow something like an ornament or tinsel.

Put comfort ahead of 'cute' costumes

The market for pet costumes during the festive season has boomed in recent years, and it may be very tempting to dress your dog or cat up as Santa or an elf - but what might seem like a good photo opportunity for you can be very stressful and uncomfortable for your pet.

Most dogs and cats do not enjoy wearing costumes, especially if they need to be pulled over their heads, are tight around their waists, and constrict their movement.

Avoid dressing your cat up at all - they'll be much happier for it, and are just as cute without a costume.

If you want to get your dog into the festive spirit, opt for a bandana you can tie loosely around their neck, and always keep an eye on your dog to make sure they're comfortable and not under any stress.

From all of us at the RSPCA, have a very merry catmas and a doggy new year!