Christmas is a time of joy, laughter, gifts and decorations – but many of these can be harmful to your pets. Here are a few things to watch out for and some tips to keep everyone happy and safe.
Chocolate & Nibbles
A lovely treat for humans, but it is toxic to pets. Chocolate contains Theobromine which is a substance similar to caffine and this cause pets to become very unwell. The darker the chocolate – the more Theobromine it contains. NEVER feed chocolate to your pets! Make sure any chocolate tree decorations are not around the lower part of the tree, make sure no chocolate gifts are under the tree and keep the box of family sweeties in the kitchen rather than on the coffee table. If your pet has eaten chocolate then please call your vet.
In general, it’s not good to feed your rabbit ANY human food (except herbs, vegetables and the very occasional bit of fruit) and all of the seasonal party food should be strictly off limits. Many nuts and crisps are very high in fat and salt – both of which can be very harmful to pets.
Christmas Tree’s & Seasonal Plants
Many seasonal plants can be harmful or toxic. Items such as Poinsettia, lilies, holly, mistletoe and ivy can all be harmful and should be kept well out of the reach of pets. Be aware of leaves that may fall to the ground and be eaten by nosey bunnies! Ideally keep all seasonal plants in a room that the pets do not use, or failing that – keep them up high.
It is always best to completely block off the Christmas tree so your pets cannot gain access to it. Smaller trees can be placed up on a table and larger trees can be fenced off with exercise pen panels. Not the most attractive thing, but better than pine needles stuck in paws, ears or eyes and a possible upset tummy from nibbling on the tree itself. Even fake trees should be blocked off as they still pose a danger.
Lights & Decorations
As most rabbit owners know – bunnies love to chew cords! So ensure all light cords are well protected and blocked off. Many lights have glass bulbs that can also pose a danger if chewed or broken. Tinsel and other garland type decorations can cause digestive blockages if eaten and many ornaments will be hazardous due to the paint and materials they are made of. Avoid ‘decorating’ your rabbit’s enclosures as they will usually try to eat the decorations!
Unless you want your gifts nibbled and opened for you – keep them well away from your pets! Items like gift bows, tags and ribbons can cause gut blockages and most gifts are not suitable for pets to eat. If you have got gifts specifically for your rabbit’s then you can wrap them in plain brown paper (no selotape or glue) and use sisal / jute string to tie them up. You can decorate the paper using non toxic pencils or crayons or use vegetable dye and stamps. The gifts can then be safely given to your bunnies for them to open themselves.
Many of us enjoy lighting some scented candles or having Christmas potpourri around the house to fill it with lovely warming scents. However, this can be very overpowering for pets. They have a far greater sense of smell than humans do and it can be very unsettling for the smell of their home to change so suddenly. And some bunnies will love to have a good chew on some potpourri – which can cause serious problems due to the volatile mixture of chemicals used. Avoid using any of these items in room that the pets will be spending time in.
Friends and family
Our homes can become very busy during the festive period with friends and family visiting, parties and music playing. All of this can be very scary for our pets. Most rabbit’s do not like major change, new people or loud noises. If possible, keep a room specifically for the bunnies to play in safely when you have guests over. Make sure it’s safe and secure and that the rabbit’s are used to spending time in there surrounded by their normal hideouts, food and toys.
Pet Remedy is a great, naturally calming scent that can really help all pets stay calm throughout the holidays. You can get a plug in diffuser that releases a continual scent into the room and also a spray that can be used on pet carriers, bedding etc as a top up.
So, take the time to make sure you have all the precautions in place to ensure that both you and your pets have a very Merry Christmas.