Christmas & New Year’s Hazards

The silly season is an exciting time of year, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations giving us plenty of reasons to let loose and celebrate. With an increase of visitors, noises, tasty treats, shiny new toys, and interesting smells, this time of year can be overwhelming for our pets.

Here are some recommendations to make sure your furry friends are safe and happy during this festive time.

  • Make sure your pet has access to a quiet, calm, and secluded spot to hide away if needed
  • Exercise your pets before any guests arrive or before any particularly noisy events (i.e., fireworks displays) if you can – a pet with pent up energy can easily become anxious
  • Keep Christmas decorations and wrapping items (paper, tape, ribbon, discarded plastic, etc.) out of your pet’s reach. If ingested, these items can cause serious health problems, including intestinal blockages that may require surgical removal
  • Many plants and flowers used for Christmas decorations are toxic to pets – be sure to keep these out of reach
  • Many foods we see at celebrations are toxic to pets and can even be fatal. Make sure your pet does not have access to:
    o Chocolate
    o Christmas pudding
    o Salty foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.)
    o Lollies & artificial sweeteners
    o Grapes, sultanas, raisins, and currants
    o Alcohol
    o Cherry pits (and other stone fruit pits)
    o Macadamias
    o Corn cobs
    o Avocado
    o Cooked bones

Fireworks can be terrifying for pets. Here is a list of tips for preparing your pet for fireworks displays:

  • Keep pets indoors when possible. The walls and roof will help to soften the noise and will also contain them safely.
  • Prepare your pet for loud noises during the day by putting on the TV or radio. Turn the volume up progressively throughout the day, so when the fireworks display commences, the existing noise will create a distraction
  • Avoid fussing over your pet. Carry on as normal, as this will reassure your pet nothing is wrong. You can use treats and games to distract them and encourage calm behaviour.
  • Ensure your pet’s microchip and identification tag details are up to date. Unfortunately, many pets escape during fireworks displays and can be found very far from home.
  • Pheromone diffusers could help to calm your pet. Talk to our team about Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs.
  • Some pet owners choose to use medications to assist in keeping particularly anxious pets calm. This is not something our team can organise for you without prior consultation, so please book in advance.

Our appointments during the festive season fill up very quickly, so be sure to organise an appointment as soon as possible.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t, has injured themselves, or you would like more advice on keeping them safe over the Christmas and New Year’s period, please give your vet clinic a call.


Preparing your pet for New Years Eve fireworks

If your dog panics during storms, it’s likely he or she will also be terrified of fireworks, which can spell trouble on New Year’s Eve. Unlike storms, however, fireworks are usually scheduled and predictable, which means you can prepare your dog in advance.

Why are dogs scared of fireworks?

Not only are they loud, but the noise can trigger a dog’s fight-or-flight response. This can prompt your dog to hide, bark, run away or show other signs of anxiety such as whining and pacing.

Before the fireworks

  • Take your dog out for a long walk earlier in the day
  • Make sure all your pets tags and microchips are up to date in case they run away
  • Feed your dog a good meal to help keep him or her settled.
  • Bring your dog inside before the noise begins so you know they are in a safe space and can’t run away.
  • Play gentle music or background noise (such as TV) for at least an hour prior to the fireworks. This will get them used to the environment before the fireworks.

During the fireworks

  • Keep an eye on them and don’t leave them alone
  • As the noise begins, gradually increase the volume of the music or TV until it has blocked out most of the sound.
  • Becoming angry and punishing them will make the situation worse and will increase your pet’s stress. This is because changing your behaviour or increasing the attention you have given them, tells them there is something unusual about this situation and reinforces their anxiety.

If you know your dog has very bad anxiety around fireworks, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss other forms of treatment.