Owners are being warned to avoid giving their pets certain Christmas treats or risk turning the merry day into a nightmare.
RSPCA chief veterinarian Bronwyn Oke is urging owners to keep an eye on what their pets are consuming during the festive period.
Cooked bones are at the top of the naughty list as they become brittle and can cause gastrointestinal obstructions, Dr Oke said.
It may also be tempting to slip a small piece of ham or other fatty meals to a furry friend but this could lead to diseases like pancreatitis in dogs.
“It’s a really painful condition and once it’s present the first time, your pet is more susceptible to it coming again and can mean days of hospitalisation,” Dr Oke said.
Other foods to avoid giving pets include chocolate, Christmas pudding, sultanas, macadamias and alcohol.
That said, pets are “particularly good at sensing foods they shouldn’t be eating”, Dr Oke said.
However owners should feed them in a separate area away from people who might try to smuggle them a tasty tidbit.
When it comes to decorating and gift-giving, leave lilies out.
They can cause fatal kidney failure in cats, the RSPCA chief vet warned.
The Christmas tree tinsel is a must-have but can also make a great toy for kittens – just make sure they’re not eating it.
“If you do find they are passing a piece of tinsel out the other end, don’t pull on it as that could cause a lot of damage – leave it to your vet,” Dr Oke said.
Animals can get quite anxious at Christmas due to changes to routines, with things being brought in and lots of visitors, RSPCA animal behaviour expert Gabrielle Carter said.
“When things become a little bit unpredictable, that’s when animals become a little bit unsure … they don’t know how to deal with the situation,” she said.
Signs to look for include licking of lips, yawning, ears going back, tucked tails and the body a bit lower to the ground.
In situations like these Dr Carter recommends taking the animal to a separate area where they feel safe to calm them down and give them treats.
For anyone giving an animal as a Christmas present, RSPCA senior inspector Steve Cook said it was important they do their research to understand where the animal comes from and ensure the recipient can look after it long-term.
A thoughtful gift could be sponsoring a pet, with the RSPCA looking after more than 600 animals this Christmas at $50 a day.
“Sponsoring just one … helps us continue to provide for them and make their wait for a forever home just that little bit nicer,” the RSPCA’s Nadia Peiris said.
(Australian Associated Press)