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Last Updated: Thursday December 10 2009 13:29 GMT

Protecting your pets at Christmas

A cat

Christmas is a time for fun and celebrations for all the family, and for loads of you that includes your pets too.

But while it's tempting to spoil your furry or scaly friends with pressies and treats, it's not always the best thing for them.

Here's a few top tips to remember to help them have as much fun as you do.

  • Never give pets bones, especially from your Christmas dinner, as they could choke on them
Christmas turkey

  • Human chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can make them really sick, so if you want to give them a sweet treat, stick to the choc drops that are made for mutts
  • Most pets love getting new toys, but you need to make sure they can't be easily swallowed or ripped into small pieces they can choke on
  • Festive fun
    • All the giddiness and excitement around Christmas can be a bit unsettling for some pets, so try to keep their routine as normal as possible. Set aside a quiet room for them if you are having a party, and reassure them with a bit of stroke or a hug every once in a while
    Cracker bangs scare some animals

    Keep Christmas decorations out of reach. Cats especially like playing with Christmas tree decorations, but you don't want them pulling the tree over

  • Some animals get a bit scared by unexpected loud bangs, so if you're using loads of crackers and party poppers keep your pet in a quiet room
  • Going away?
    • Don't leave pets home alone if you go away this Christmas - leave them with a friend or relative, or put them in a good cattery or kennel.
    • If you're taking your animals with you, make sure they've got plenty of water and exercise during long journeys

    Don't forget about animals that are kept outside. Pets like horses, rabbits and pond fish need extra attention at this time of year

  • Fishponds and horse troughs should be regularly checked in case the water freezes over
  • And last but not least, make sure you've got details of any emergency vets who are available during the Christmas and New Year holidays