It won’t be long until Christmas Day and if you’ve got a pet, there’s some dangers to look out for in the lead up to the big day.

From toxic plants and poisonous foods to accidents involving decorations, there are many risks for pets during the festive season.

TrustedHousesitters has worked with vets and animal experts to reveal the biggest dangers pets can face at Christmas plus what pet owners can do to avoid them.

Border Telegraph: Pet owners need to be aware of fatal dangers at ChristmasPet owners need to be aware of fatal dangers at Christmas (Image: PA)

5 fatal pet dangers and how to avoid them this Christmas

Protect your Christmas tree with foil and citrus peel

One of the main Christmas dangers is the tree with dogs, cats and other small animals often tempted to climb the tree or jump up to play with the decorations that hang from it.

Vet Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, advises: “Placing foil or citrus peels around the trunk and base of the Christmas tree can keep cats away, or you may consider placing an ex-pen fence around it to keep pets away from the presents as well.”  

Mistletoe isn’t always for kissing

Pet owners should always supervise their pets around seasonal plants as some can be extremely dangerous. Better yet, pet owners should avoid them entirely.

Dr. Megan Conrad, BVMS, a licensed vet, said: “Many holiday plants can cause health problems for your pet, ranging from GI upset to heart issues and kidney failure. Definitely avoid mistletoe and holly, along with lilies, pine boughs and wreaths. The pine needles on a live Christmas tree can also be harmful if ingested.” 

Why dogs shouldn't eat chocolate

Tinsel might look pretty but it can be fatal

While tinsel can add to the festive feel inside our homes at this time of year, it can also be fatal for our furry friends.

Vet, Monika Šragová, said: “I would strongly advise against tinsel, especially if you have a cat as it can be deadly. Tinsel, ribbons, yarn… anything that’s “stringy” can result in a condition we call a linear foreign body.

“This happens when one end of the string wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, and the rest moves into the intestines. Since it’s anchored at one end, it cannot be passed and will cause severe damage to your pet’s intestines.

“Linear foreign body is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate surgical intervention.” 

Swap real Christmas wreaths for faux ones

Poinsettias are plants commonly used to form part of real Christmas wreaths but they aren’t advised if you have pets.

Kasey Turner, an animal behaviourist, explains: “Poinsettias are harmful to dogs and cats, so it's best to keep them out of reach. If your pet consumes poinsettias, you might notice symptoms like drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea. Also, if the milky sap of the plant comes in contact with your pet's skin or eyes, it could cause dermal irritation, including redness, swelling, and itching.”  

If you think your pet has consumed something toxic, you should speak to a vet as soon as possible.


Watch out for Christmas dinner leftovers

Animals love food and there’s usually plenty about when Christmas arrives but it’s important you keep your pets away from toxic foods.

Dr. Helena Adalid Marin, a veterinarian, said: “Christmas is the time of the year when we receive the most poisoning cases. The main culprit is chocolate, which is very toxic to dogs. Seafood and sauces with onion and garlic should also be avoided, not to mention letting them taste champagne… Avoid giving pets any food from the table and keep the bin tightly closed because they’ll end up sniffing out leftover food.” 

Dogs are known for loving bones but poultry bones should not be given to them.

READ MORE: RSPCA advise people not to buy an animal as a gift this Christmas

Veterinary surgeon, Dr. Linda Simon, said: “While it may be tempting to toss the turkey carcase to our dog, bones should not be given. They can cause tooth fractures, gut obstructions or severe constipation. Instead, stick with some lean meat.” 

Angela Laws, award-winning community manager of TrustedHousesitters, who is also a sitter with 14 years of experience, said: “Christmas is a time for the whole family to get together and celebrate, but if you have pets, you should take extra care to ensure they’re happy, healthy and safe.

“Always keep a close eye on your pets and monitor everything they’re eating around Christmastime, as leftovers can be dangerous. If your pet is anxious or struggling with the hustle and bustle of the season, ensure you keep to their usual routine, exercise them regularly, and have a safe space at home where they can retreat if the festivities become too much for them.”

To find out more about keeping pets safe at Christmas, you can visit the TrustedHousesitters website.