'Tis the season to come together and celebrate with friends and family, and this includes your furry family members too. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you and your four-legged mate have a purrfectly merry and safe Christmas!

  1. Before your Christmas celebrations start, why not exercise your pet before everyone arrives to help de-stress them and make them more likely to nap once the festivities are underway? You should also ensure that they have a quiet, safe space allocated for them to slip away to so they can relax in case they become overwhelmed. It may also help to play music or leave the TV on to mask the chatter of visitors.

  2. Keep wrapping paper, ribbons and Christmas ornaments out of your pets' reach, as ingesting any of these items can cause intestinal and other health problems. It's a good idea to check your vet's holiday opening hours just in case of emergency too. 

  3. Don’t give in to those puppy dog eyes! Christmas foods can be some of the most dangerous foods to give to your pets, and in some cases that little treat can prove fatal! In particular, don’t let your pets anywhere near alcohol, avocado, chocolate, Christmas pudding, coffee, cooked bones, currants, fruit cake, grapes, gravy, ham, lollies, macadamia nuts, marinades, onion, pork, raisins or sugarless gum. For more information on which foods are toxic for your furry mates click here.

  4. Of course, some pets can be very determined and crafty when it comes to plotting ways to obtain special treats, so keep an eye out for any changes in appearance or behaviour (including poor breathing, excessive panting, muscle twitching, vomiting and diarrhoea). If you think your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, contact your vet as soon as possible.

  5. Why not give your four-legged friend a Christmas treat of their own instead? That way they don’t have to miss out on the festivities and you can have some fun with it too! You could create a dry food treasure hunt around your house or yard, make them their favourite Kong, take some time to play their favourite games with them, or whip up some pet-friendly treats (there's heaps of great recipes on the internet for animals great and small!).

  6. If you’re going away on holidays this Christmas, make proper arrangements for your pets' care - and let your neighbours know. At this time of year, we often see a surge in abandonment reports coming through. If your pet is staying at your property with someone caring for them, keep your neighbour's in the loop, and leave them an emergency contact number just in case.

For more tips on caring for your furry, finned or feathered best friend, visit RSPCA's Knowledgebase website