While it may be the jolliest time of the year, Christmas isn’t free from potential doggy mishaps and cat-astrophes. Seeing unfamiliar people, children, and loud celebrations can be a bit much for your poochy pal or feline friend to handle. And, with all the yummy food and drinks around, you’ll want to ensure that nothing goes awry.

If your dog shows any behaviours that tell you they are uncomfortable, such as them licking their lips, showing the whites in their eyes, or turning their heads away when anybody is patting them, please step in immediately and guide them to their ‘safe space’ to restart and recharge. This could be their kennel, a room away from the festivities, or any place that is safe and quiet.

RSPCA WA Shelter Manager Emily Smith says that toxic foods and stomach blockages are also common occurrences around the holiday season.

‘Pets who eat dangerous foods over the holidays may need emergency surgery, while things like wrapping paper and decorations can cause intestinal blockages, requiring emergency surgery,’ she says.

Cooked bones are brittle and can lodge in your pet’s windpipe or stomach, while chocolate, fruit mince pies and Christmas Pudding all contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

Alcohol is another toxic ingredient that is in abundance at holiday parties, so watch your guests aren’t leaving filled glasses within reach of prying paws. If in doubt, always contact your vet straight away for advice.’

Google Trends data also shows a massive 60 per cent spike in Aussies searching for an ‘emergency vet’ on Christmas Day last year.

Between organising your gifts and the food festivities, always remember to set some time aside so you can plan a stress-free event for your little furry friends. Here’s a handy checklist for you to check to make sure that your furry pals will enjoy the fur-stivities as much as you will!

  • Walk your dog/play with your cat before guests arrive. This will help them work out any excess energy they may have, as well as help ease stress and anxiety.
  • Set up a ‘safe space’ for your pet to relax. Ensure this space is away from the event and that it has a bed for them to snooze in, as well as toys to keep them entertained. Even pets need to recharge their batteries!
  • Keep toxic food and drinks well out of reach. Most problems happen completely by accident—your dog may cheekily grab a piece of food from the table or from an unattended plate. If you can keep an eye out and remove these things from reach, you’re already one step closer to having a stress-free event.
  • Know the signs of stress in your pet and intervene when needed. Pets can get overwhelmed much easier than us, so always check in with your pet and keep an eye on them so you know when to take them to their safe space.
  • Check your vet’s holiday hours. If, worst case scenario, something does happen, you’ll want to check that your local vet is able to assist. Have a backup plan and a place you can take your pet if things do go south.

‘Keeping these dangers in mind should help prevent any mishaps, and ensure the holidays are happy for two and four-legged family members alike,’ Ms Smith says.