Keeping your pets healthy and happy this festive season

The festive season is a time for family and friends – including our four-legged ones. They rely on us to do the best we can for them and we owe it to them to ensure that we do. This means that, before heading off on holidays, parties, or a day at the beach, pets should be the first thought on our minds.

People tend to be non-stop busy with parties and get-togethers, shopping, outings, and more. You will do them and yourself a favour if you stop, relax, and hang out with your pets for a while. Spending time with you is what they love best.

Pet thefts skyrocket at this time of year, especially of pure breeds and puppies. Keep your pets out of sight (i.e. not in your front yard) and never, ever leave puppies or small-breed dogs alone outdoors where they can easily be grabbed. We recommend reading our article on how to protect your pets from theft.

Fireworks are also a consideration so keep pets indoors in a safe space if they’re afraid of loud noises. If your pet will be outside, ensure your boundary wall or fence is secure because, if fireworks go off, your pet may well bolt, never to be seen again. Get more advice in our article on fireworks.

Hot weather is another important consideration. Pets, be they dogs, cats, birds, or reptiles, overheat much faster than we do. They can sustain brain damage or die from heat-stroke and dehydration.

  • Ensure that your pets have access to shade and cool, fresh water all day.
  • Walk dogs early in the morning (before 9AM) or late evening (after 6PM), not in the heat of the day.
  • Don’t walk them on hot tar as this can burn their paws.
  • Never leave animals in a car, even if you open the windows, leave water, or park in the shade. The temperature in a car on a hot day can be 20°C – 30°C higher than it is outside. On a 30°C day (standard in summer), it can reach 45°C inside a car within 10 minutes, and 60°C in 20 minutes. Furthermore, your car could be stolen with your dog in it or your dog be stolen out of the car.
  • If you see a dog locked in a car, don’t break the window immediately unless you can see the dog is in imminent danger (collapsing, shaking, shivering, disorientated) or you could be in legal hot water. First try to locate the owner and, if this is unsuccessful, call the police or SPCA. Don’t just post it on Facebook and hope that ‘someone will do something’ –  by the time ‘someone’ sees it, it may be too late to do anything.

Fleas and ticks are particularly prevalent at this time of year. Not only are they an annoyance but they can also make your pet ill. Ensure that they are well-groomed (washed and brushed), and ask your vet for recommendations of suitable treatments. Do not wash your pet with Jeyes Fluid or cover them in motor oil as these are can damage skin or even kill your pet (and they don’t work anyway).

Treats. Be careful when ‘treating’ your pets to festive foods as not all are safe for them. Stay away from chocolates, sugar, nuts, avocado, alcohol, creamy foods, and raisins. Check ingredients of sugar-free products for xylitol as this is deadly to dogs. If you want to treat them to festive foods, go for plain chicken or turkey, vegetables like pumpkin and butternut, and fruit like apples.

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