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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Keeping your pets healthy at Xmas

By Jonathan Blake
Newsbeat reporter

Santa dog

Food, decorations and family gatherings are just part of Christmas for most people, but for pets it can all be a bit too much.

Vets are warning the festive season is often a miserable time for animals, with most homes littered with potential hazards.

A dog's sensitive hearing can make parties unbearable, chocolates on the tree are tempting but poisonous.

Many pets will also be left alone when owners go away for Christmas or New Year.

Broken glass
Chili the Beagle looks warm and festive

For vet Hannah James-Roll, at her surgery in Henley-on-Thames, the festive season is always a busy time of year: "We will see dogs with diarrhoea or blockages because they've eaten Christmas decorations, or a turkey bone that's got stuck."

It isn't just food that can find its way into a pet's insides: "We've had to remove tinsel, champagne corks and some times it's 'guess the toy' on the X-ray," she said.

Making sure your pet can't get hold of sweet treats that aren't good for them is just one in a list of tips in the veterinary charity PDSA's advent calendar of advice.

The charity also warns: "Not only is there a danger from the alcohol, but a broken glass can seriously injure your pet."


Hannah James-Roll says parties and family gatherings are also an issue, especially for dogs with highly sensitive hearing.

RSPCA's tips for an animal-friendly Christmas
Dog in Santa hat

Don't give pets as presents
Don't leave pets home alone
Work out travel arrangements
Keep your pet in a quiet room
Keep decorations out of reach
Be sensible with treats
Have emergency vet details
"Unwrapping presents, crackers, party poppers, every dog hates it. Just put the dog in the other room so they can go and hide somewhere safe and isn't going to run off and disappear," she said.

Among the other advice from vets is a warning to make sure pets get plenty of fresh air and a reminder to keep an eye on smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs who may live outside.

Animal charities are also reminding people that giving a pet as a Christmas present is something that should be given careful consideration.

Vets agree. "It's not a good time to introduce a puppy or an older dog to the house. Too many hazards, too many people," said Hannah James-Roll.

But despite all the warnings and potential dangers there is some reassurance that Christmas can be an enjoyable time for pets.

Hannah James-Roll added: "You can have great fun, the vast majority of pets will be absolutely fine. Just be sensible."

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