Season to paws and think about pets

Wrapping paper is strewn all over the place, the weather is scorching and the fridge is filled with left-overs from the Christmas feast.

But before you feed your scraps to the family pet, Fairy Meadow vet Dr Luke Michel has some warnings for pet owners.

Humans are not the only ones who suffer from heatstroke or get sunburnt, Dr Michel said.

Pet owners are advised to avoid long walks during the hottest part of the day and apply pet-specific sunscreen as animals can get burnt through their hair, especially white cats or dogs.

Giving pets scraps or meat that has gone off can give them gastro or pancreatitis.

"Christmas ham is usually the worst offender," Dr Michel said.

"Boxing Day and the days after, [the clinic is] usually the busiest.

"Chocolate is another big one - it's especially bad for dogs and dark chocolate is the worst."

Theobromine, a chemical in chocolate, can cause seizures and heart failure.

If a pet has ingested it, owners are advised to take them to a vet where vomiting can be induced.

The sooner the chocolate is vomited, the less toxin is absorbed, and the better the chances of survival, Dr Michel said.

"Also avoid fatty foods and scraps, but chicken is usually okay without skin or bones," he said. "Don't give them a big amount of food they've never had before."

Instead, reward pets with treats made specifically for them, such as dog chocolates and liver treats.

Be cautious with Christmas decorations within reach of pets, including tree pine needles and power leads. For safety, tree lights should be unplugged before leaving pets at home alone. Owners are also advised to use a strong cord or rope to tie the top of the Christmas tree to a wall as big dogs or tree-climbing cats might knock it over.

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