Not only does the loud sound of Christmas crackers upset dogs, but they also pose a choking risk with the small prizes that are inside, warns animal expert
Christmas is a magical time of year best spent with family and loved ones – including those with four paws and waggy tails.
But there are so many hidden dangers that come with the festive season that could end December 25 with an emergency vet visit, from mince pies to chocolate treats.
And a vet has warned owners about one favourite festive tradition and the danger it can pose to our pets – Christmas crackers.
Low teamed up with Veterinary expert, Tilly Wild, who warned: “It’s not unusual for a showering of debris after the pulling of crackers and party poppers. With little gifts and plenty of rubbish likely to end up all over the table and floor, keep an eye on what your dog might pick up and swallow.
“Small prizes from crackers could be a choking hazard or cause internal blockages, so if possible, do these types of activities away from your dog and ensure a quick tidy up.”
Not only this, but dogs have much better hearing than people, so what sounds like a cracker bang to humans will be a lot louder to them.
Tilly added: “We know that a lot of dogs are afraid of many sorts of unexpected noise, so a cracker bang could be similar and could have a similar effect on them. We, as humans, know the difference between a loud noise that is a threat and a loud noise that isn’t, but a dog does not have that same understanding.
“The dog may hear the bang, perceive it as a threat, and go into flight or fight response. It’s tough to explain to them that nothing bad is going to happen.
“If you know that your dog is noise sensitive or sensitive to new stimuli and you’re going to be pulling crackers, then it’s probably best to have them in another room or put them in their safe space (like their crate) with some toys, chews etc whilst you do the crackers then let them back in when you’ve finished with the activity.”
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Other common traditions that Tilly suggests dog owners should be wary of this Christmas include fairy lights and Christmas trees.
“Lighting up your home for Christmas is very common,” she said. “However, vets warn of Christmas lights causing electric shocks, mouth damage or intestinal blockages if your pup tries to eat them. So make sure you don’t leave your dog unattended and that the lights are out of reach.
“With more wires around than normal too and curious canines sniffing around, make sure any wires are blocked off or tidied away neatly to avoid your dog getting tangled up in them or in very serious cases, receiving a dangerous electric shock.”
And while real Christmas trees are a very popular household staple, they can also be a real cause for concern when it comes to dogs.
Tilly said: “Whether it be real or fake, a tree indoors is likely to be a strange sight for your dog. Chances are they will come for a sniff around, so ensure that your tree is securely anchored to decrease the risk of it being knocked over and causing an injury and a big mess.
“Also, make sure you hoover up regularly to minimise your dog’s ability to ingest any pine needles or get them stuck in their paws. Whilst pine is not toxic to dogs, ingesting too much could cause irritation to the digestive system, and needles can be sharp.”
And while tucking into a long-awaited Christmas dinner, you might be tempted to share any leftovers with your dog. Tilly strongly warns against this, explaining: “Though undeniably delicious to us, several festive foods from your Christmas dinner can actually be poisonous to dogs.
“It may seem like a seasonal treat, but letting your pup have anything from your dinner plate that contains chocolate, mince pies, Christmas pudding, onion gravy or alcohol could be very dangerous for them – so avoid the urge to let your dog enjoy your Christmas dinner too.
“If you’re leaving the table without clearing the plates, make sure someone has eyes on the dog to ensure they don’t lap up some leftovers on their own accord.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.