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Keep your pet safe and happy over Christmas

CHRISTMAS IS a busy time for everyone but one member of the family you must never forget is your pet. The over-feeding, over-excitement and general over-indulgence can be a recipe for disaster.

It is a good idea to plan ahead to make sure your pet’s normal routine is maintained, this is especially important for dogs who need regular feeding and exercise. It is also best to limit excitement and ration the treats as no one wants so spend Christmas at the vets.

Over-eating at any time of the year is as dangerous for pets as it is for humans. Obesity in animals is a serious problem but a one-off bout of Christmas over-indulgence can prove dangerous too. Large dogs such as Rottweilers, Dobermanns and Setters should never bound around after eating or drinking vast amounts as they could suffer gastric torsion - twisting of the stomach. Without immediate veterinary attention this condition can be fatal.

Chocolate is also something that needs to be avoided - not only is it fattening it can be fatal to your dog. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs. Small dogs eating large quantities are particularly at risk. A 100g bar of chocolate contains 160mg of theobromine which could be enough to poison a Chihuahua. Doggie chocs are the safest option - unless your dog is already overweight.

Christmas decorations can also be very dangerous to curious dogs. Swallowing tree baubles, tinsel and streamers can cause serious internal injuries and blockages - all requiring major surgery. So to avoid a catastrophe keep all decorations out of paws and claws reach.

Keep pets out of the kitchen when you are cooking or baking for the festivities ahead. When you are dashing around pets can easily be burnt, scalded or trodden on.

Always keep one room empty and quiet so once the days start to get full of visitors your pet can retreat from all the attention. For a nervous animal the hustle and bustle of Christmas can be very unsettling, as can exploding crackers and party poppers.

One last important tip for your peace of mind is to have your vet’s emergency number available as well as their holiday cover arrangements. They may be quite different from what you are used to.