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Byron Shire
May 30, 2024

Don’t stuff your pets this Christmas

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…and resist the very tempting urge to give a pet as a present

Christmas pets need pet treats not human ones.

In the spirit of giving, it can be tempting to sneak our pets a taste of the Christmas ham. However, it is important to remain pet smart this silly season and stay vigilant over what we are feeding our pets over the festive season.

RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Liz Arnott says may think you are giving your pet a treat by giving them festive food. ‘Many of these foods can be toxic to animals or cause them to become unwell.

‘There are other ways to make Christmas special for your pets, like providing them with long-lasting chews and taking the time to exercise and play with them before your guests arrive for lunch,’ said Dr Arnott.

Here are some festive foods to avoid giving your pets:

  • Pork/ham
  • Marinades
  • Gravy
  • Cooked bones
  • Chocolate
  • Christmas pudding
  • Fruit cake
  • Grapes/currants/raisins
  • Onion
  • Lollies
  • Alcohol

Pets are not good gifts

Also, another good this to remember is that pets are not great gifts. Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) say that rescued animals can be wonderful additions to a family – but just not when they’re given as gifts to unsuspecting recipients during one of the most chaotic times of the year.

Each year, animal shelters are inundated with dogs and cats given as gifts during the festive period.

PETA has published 10 reasons why dogs and cats don’t make good Christmas Gifts.

Animals can’t simply be ‘re-gifted’

An embarrassing Christmas sweater from Aunt Cheryl, a useless gadget, and a tacky tie are easy enough to return, re-gift, or toss in the attic and forget. But animals are living, breathing, feeling beings who can’t be re-gifted if they don’t suit a person’s fancy.

A dog or cat is for life, not just for Christmas

Sure, that kitten or puppy might look cute peeking out from under the Christmas tree – but adding animal companions to the family is an important decision that requires a lifetime commitment to caring for them. Remember: a new puppy or kitten could be a part of the family for 15 years or longer.

The consequences can be dreadful.

Many shelters reach their capacity within the first few weeks of the new year, when the tidal wave of surrendered animals hits after the holidays, leaving shelter workers to face the heartbreaking prospect of euthanising healthy, friendly, loving cats and dogs because of a lack of space and resources to care for them all.

Worst. Gift. Ever.

Cute puppies won’t seem like much of a ‘present’ after they chew up a priceless heirloom, decide to use the Christmas tree as a toilet, bark through the night, and rack up hundreds of dollars in vet bills for vaccinations, sterilisation, and flea and de-worming treatments – and that’s just when they’re healthy!

It’s a stressful time of year

When you’re hosting houseguests, cooking up a storm, and travelling to see the in-laws, the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day can get pretty chaotic – making it tough for even well-adjusted animals to settle into their new homes.

It contributes to animal homelessness

In the days, weeks, and months following the holidays, already overwhelmed animal shelters across the country will be flooded with animals who were given as gifts, only to be tossed out along with the tree when the novelty wears off or their guardians discover that caring for rambunctious puppies and kittens is a full-time job.

Animals aren’t like other gifts

They require lots of time, patience, and money – all of which are scarce during the holidays. If you’re thinking about giving a furry friend as a gift this Christmas, stick to the kind found in toy shops.

Kids can be irresponsible (because, well, they’re kids)

It’s great to teach children about responsibility, but after the puppy love wears off (and it often does very quickly), parents are the ones who are left to do all the dirty work – literally!

Animal companions can put serious pressure on the purse strings

The money spent on food, toys, insurance, vaccinations, and vet bills can quickly add up. Over a lifetime, the total cost per canine family member comes to around $25,000. The RSPCA estimates that the first-year ownership cost ranges from $2,350 to $5,220.

Animals are not ‘one size fits all’

All animals have their charms – but that doesn’t mean they’ll be compatible with your loved one’s activity level, experience, and personality. For this reason, it’s important to make sure the animals are suited to the lifestyle and temperament of the people who will be responsible for them.

We hope you AND your pets have a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas.


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