Jen Cairns - AAPS training specialist shares some festive tips for your furry friends

Christmas is such a busy and exciting time not just for us, but for our pets as well. Families tend to be home more, there is many outings, kids are on holidays and there are many gatherings and events to attend. 

With all the excitement, it is important to remember there are some hidden dangers for our beloved pets that are important for owners to be aware of. 

Visitors and events: 

Many families have Christmas gatherings at their homes, with lots of guests and sometimes people our pets have never met. While some pets take this in their stride, others may find this overwhelming. 

Keep an eye on your pet for cues, looking nervous, trying to retreat or behaving differently to normal are all signs your pet needs some quiet time alone. Christmas can also be a time where there may be unfamiliar children in your home. If you are not sure how your pet will react around children, the best option is to keep your pet separate. If your pet is overwhelmed or unsure at anytime, you can still let them enjoy their day. Find a delicious treat that will take your pet a long time to eat and give them a quiet area either in the laundry or somewhere safe in the backyard to chew this while the festivities continue. 

Festive foods: 

The festive season generally goes hand in hand with lots of delicious foods! But many of the treats we love, are not safe for our pets. The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) warns owners to never feed these items to our pets: chocolate, nutmeg, grapes and raisins (including Christmas pudding and mince tarts), avocado, macadamia nuts, onion and garlic, turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and other fatty meats, and lastly alcohol.

When consumed, these foods can cause illness and be potentially toxic. If you think your pet has eaten any of the above foods, call your vet immediately for advice. 


Fireworks while beautiful are very loud and many animals find the noise overwhelming and unfamiliar. Dogs, cats and even horses don’t cope well with the unfamiliar sound of fireworks, with many trying to escape the sound and putting themselves at risk of injury or becoming displaced. 

Over the festive period when fireworks are common, where possible keep your pet indoors or in an area where they can not injure themselves on anything if they do try to flee. Ensure microchip and ID tags have the correct details and where possible if your animal is particularly scared of the noise, stay home with them or have a trusted friend to watch them if you are out. 

For dogs, it can help to close the curtains, turn up the television to drown out the noise and give them something to keep them distracted – treat balls, puzzles and treat scatters all work great! 

If you keep these tips in mind, you and your pets will enjoy the festive season together.

Megan Seccull