Five Christmas Disasters and How To Prevent Them

Christmas is a an exciting and often hectic time of year – but had you thought about how it impacts on your pets? In this blog, we’ll look at five pet-related Christmas disasters and how to stop them ruining your festivities!

Tree Injuries

A tree in the living room makes Christmas for many families… But to cats it’s a climbing frame, and to dogs it can be a urinal. Unfortunately, most indoor trees aren’t stable enough to take a curious moggy climbing about in the branches, and tend to fall over, causing alarm and despondency to all in their path (including the poor cat, who gets catapulted across the room).

Dogs weeing on the Christmas tree is messy and unamusing (except to very small children). However, if you’ve got electric fairy lights, it can also result in a nasty electric shock in a very unfortunate place.

To avoid tree-induced injury or electrocution, make sure that trees are well secured and well supervised when pets are around!

Ornament Attacks

Baubles, tinsel, glittery and sparkly decorations – they make our homes look very festive. However, they are also a massive temptation to our pets! New shiny toys to be played with, sucked, broken and swallowed.

Cats generally seem to have thing for tinsel, and love to pounce on it. Unfortunately, it can get caught round their claws and teeth and, worse, get swallowed causing a “linear foreign body”. Once in the intestines, the string at the core of the tinsel acts like a cheesewire, cutting through the tissue.

Dogs generally prefer bigger, bouncier toys – like baubles, fairies etc – and love to chew them. This often results in broken toys and cut mouths. However, sometimes dogs (often Labradors with their soft mouths and tendency to greed…) will swallow a toy whole, resulting in a “foreign body obstruction” and emergency surgery to remove a bauble blocking the bowel.

The best way to keep our pets safe is to keep all ornaments out of reach, and if possible, only allow supervised contact – so you can distract them if the shiny things get too tempting!

Festive Flames

Candles and, in older houses, a roaring fire make a house a snug winter home. However, pets – like small children – don’t recognise the danger. Yes, the flickering light is beautiful, but it has a hot bit at the end! Cats in particular are prone to swiping at candle flames and either getting burned, or knocking over the candle.

The best prevention is making sure you don’t use real lit candles where the animals can get at them. If you want the effect, there are some very good LED battery powered candles available nowadays, which don’t get hot and don’t pose the same risk to pets.

Toxic Treats

Christmas, to many of us, is a time associated with special foods – dried fruits, nuts, sage-and-onion stuffing, Christmas pudding, chocolates and, of course, alcohol, to mention just a few. However, all of these are poisonous to our pets… The top culprits at this time of year are:

  • Raisins (in mincemeat and puddings) which can cause kidney failure in dogs, and also occasionally in cats.
  • Peanuts can cause salt poisoning and seizures in dogs.
  • Macadamia nuts – these cause seizures and a wide range of other toxic effects in dogs.
  • Onions can cause anaemia in dogs and cats.
  • Chocolate – highly toxic to both cats and dogs, causing vomiting, heart problems and potentially seizures.
  • Alcohol – we all know it causes drunkenness and a hangover in humans, but dogs and cats don’t cope as well as we do and are frequently dangerously ill after only a tiny amount.

Bottom line – don’t feed your pets anything unless you’re CERTAIN it’s safe for them!


We all like to give our pets something special over Christmas – but even if you manage to avoid the actually poisonous foodstuffs, cats and dogs do not really benefit from a very varied diet. Unlike us, it takes their intestines a while to adapt to new foods – so suddenly offering them rich roast turkey, gravy or similar indulgences often causes a nasty stomach upset! Actually, vomiting and diarrhoea are the most common reasons we see dogs over the Christmas period, mainly due to overly generous owners. In general, you’re better off sticking to proper pet foods – most manufacturers do offer Christmas Specials, so you can still offer them a treat, but one that’s less likely to require veterinary attention.

Christmas can still be fun with pets, but you do need to be a bit careful…

If you have any concerns over your pet’s health over Christmas, feel free to call us – we always make sure that there’s a vet on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!