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Keep your pets safe as you deck the halls

Christmas is coming and many of you will now be filling your homes with sparkling tinsel, bright poinsettias and of course the all-important tree. Cats and dogs are naturally drawn to colourful decorations and may wonder if they have been given new toys – but it is important to be aware of the dangers they can pose.

Christmas tree

As the centrepiece to the celebrations, your Christmas tree is bound to attract the attention of curious cats and playful dogs. Whether they like climbing or simply playing with the lower branches, Christmas trees can easily topple over so The Cats’ Protection League recommends that you use a sturdy base and secure it with clear fishing line and small hooks attached to the ceiling or wall.

Baubles and tinsel

Cats and dogs love nothing more than chasing the shiny baubles that hang from your tree. But unlike a more robust toy, delicate baubles can easily shatter in your pet’s teeth and paws, causing cuts to their skin or even choking.

Tinsel, as well as ribbons and sequins, are also tempting toys, particularly for cats, but they are all harmful if eaten. While the plastic itself might not be poisonous, foreign objects may cause blockages in their intestines so make sure all decorations and ornaments are high up.

Chocolate decorations

They may be a favourite among children (and adults!) however chocolate decorations contain theobromine, a stimulant that is poisonous to both dogs and cats.

Dogs tend to have more of sweet tooth than cats and may be attracted to the foil-wrapped treats so you should always keep them out of reach. Eating chocolate can cause diarrhoea and vomiting in dogs, or in more severe cases, it can put a strain on their heart. If your pet has accidentally eaten chocolate you should contact your vet for advice.

Poisonous plants

Adding some greenery to your home brightens up the dark winter months but seasonal plants like poinsettia, mistletoe and holly and ivy berries are all toxic if ingested. To avoid this, position pot plants in a place that pets won’t be able to reach them and don’t forget to clear the area beneath your Christmas tree as pine needles have sharp edges that might irritate sensitive paws.


Few things are more festive than flickering candles but the dangers caused by naked flames and hot wax are clear. Candles are easily knocked off by boisterous cats and dogs and can singe their tails, whiskers and noses. Just as you would with young children, you should always supervise your pet around candles.

10 December 2015

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