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Battersea advice for keeping your pets happy this Christmas

Many people will be busy getting their homes ready for Christmas this week, with trees to decorate, baubles to buy and lights to go up. However, while Christmastime is great fun for people, it can be a dangerous time for our pets.

Leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, is advising pet owners to be careful when planning their Christmas treats, to ensure that the whole family can enjoy the festive fun.

Claire Turner, Veterinary Surgeon at Battersea said: “After Christmas plans were cancelled for so many last year, some may be planning an extra special festive period this year. Decorations, drinks and food are all Christmas treats that we look forward to, but some of these can be extremely toxic to our dogs and cats at home, so it’s really important to be extra careful at this time of year.”

Some things to look out for are:

• Christmas trees: None of the chemicals produced by pines or spruces are particularly dangerous to dogs or cats if ingested, but the needles can cause irritation to their mouth if they do decide to chew them. However, if your pet does choose to spend lots of time by the tree, some needles may cause damage to their eyes and paws. It may be wise to choose a tree with a low needle-drop to reduce the risk of this happening.

• Decorations: Some pets are more curious than others, so may show a lot of interest in the decorations that have popped up around your house. Plastic decorations, like tinsel could be potentially harmful if eaten and glass decorations, like baubles could get stuck in your pet’s paws if they fall off your tree and smash. Keep an eye on your pet and make sure decorations are properly secured and where possible, out of the reach of curious paws.

• Festive plants: Mistletoe, Ivy, Holly and Poinsettia make for beautiful festive foliage, but can cause your dog or cat to have an upset stomach if they are eaten or chewed on. Try and avoid bringing these plants into your home.

• Chocolate: A chocolate decorations may be a favourite for humans, but for dogs and cats chocolates are poisonous. In the most serious cases, chocolate can cause kidney failure in dogs. If you are hanging chocolate decorations on the tree be sure to place them out of reach of your pet.

• Christmas dinner: Christmas dinner is a treat that should be enjoyed by all of the family, and our pets are no different. However, there are some ingredients in your Christmas meal that could be toxic to dogs and cats.

Onion, garlic, dried fruits and leek are often found in stuffing or sausages and can all be harmful to dogs and cats. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, whilst other nuts could cause gastrointestinal issues.

Raisins are often a key ingredient in mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding but these are potentially extremely toxic to dogs. Some dogs seem to be able to tolerate them but for others a single raisin can lead to kidney failure, requiring emergency treatment.

It’s also very important to never give your pets cooked bones or leave bones in a bin where they can get them. Whilst raw bones can be a great treat for your dogs to chew on, cooked bones can splinter, which could be potentially fatal if swallowed.

• Alcohol: For those having a tipple or two, make sure drinks are out of reach for pets. Alcohol has a huge impact on pets even in small doses. Alcohol can lead to sickness, diarrhoea and can cause damage to the central nervous system.

Claire continues: “Christmas is such a special time, and while there is lots to be mindful of around our pets it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy this time together. Pets are opportunists, so ensure that they’re never left unsupervised with toxic substances. If they do manage to consume anything or become injured in any way don’t delay- immediately contact your vet for more advice.”

Battersea is asking the public to support their ‘Wear Blue for Rescue’ campaign where pet owners and supporters alike can help champion rescue animals whilst showing their love for those who deserve a second chance in life. Members of the public are invited to show their support by proudly wearing the new Rescue symbol as a way to stand out, stand up, and unite all animal lovers far and wide. 

To get involved with the campaign and ‘Wear Blue for Rescue’, animal lovers can buy items featuring the rescue symbol, wear it with pride, share on social media by tagging @Battersea and using #RescueIsMyFavouriteBreed and donate to help rescue animals everywhere.

For more festive advice, or to find out more about our ‘Wear Blue for Rescue’ campaign, please visit


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