Pets might be hard to ignore as they pace around the festive dining table, but that's exactly what Australian pet owners are being asked to do this holiday season – ignore pets' pleas for the Christmas dinner scraps.
With the holidays likely to bring more food into the home, this message is particularly important as new research from Purina Pet Care reveals more than half of the nation's dog owners (58%) say they feed their dog -human' food or samples from the dinner table. Of those surveyed, Gen Y was the guiltiest generation, with over half (52%) feeding their pets straight from the dinner table, compared to Baby Boomers (33%).
The seemingly harmless desire to -treat' pets with a bit of holiday food can actually put them at risk of serious health problems because their digestive systems aren't prepared for rich dishes.
One of the biggest Christmas no-no's for pets is chocolate. While many owners won't intentionally share chocolate with pets, puppy paws have a way of reaching places you thought would be safe.
The chocolate in that low-lying Christmas stocking contains caffeine and theobromine which are both poisonous for dogs. It can cause signs of restlessness, panting, vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, seizures, arrhythmias and in serious cases, death. To be safe, ensure any chocolate is safely stored and unable to be accessed by curious pets.
Another common cause for concern is the traditional festive BBQ. The much loved outdoor cooking bonanza poses many dangers for pets, with skewers, cooked bones and corn cobs all potential hazards. That delicious smelling fat can also cause gastroenteritis and pancreatitis in your furry friends and onion is also extremely toxic and capable of causing anaemia.
Purina's resident vet, Dr Lisa Chimes, has experienced firsthand the dangers of inappropriate feeding: 'We all love our pets and want them to have everything we have – from comfortable beds, to designer clothes, and fancy food. The reality is that pets don't have the same thought processes as us."
Love Christmas pudding? Your pet's digestive system certainly doesn't. Ensure your pet avoids sharing Christmas pudding, fruit salads, gingerbread, mince pies and cooked bones.
Pets are happy with regular animal food, which has been formulated specifically for their digestive system and needs. So, keep your pets healthy this holiday season and only feed them food that's suited for them, such as Purina One for dogs, or Fancy Feast for cats," Dr Lisa Chimes concluded.
Worried your pet may have ingested something harmful? Alarmingly, the internet is the main point of call for pet owners concerned about their pet's health, with one in four (25%) searching the net for an answer to their pet's symptoms (this rises to 44% of Generation Y pet owners), rather than seeking professional advice.
For any pet owners who are concerned about their pets well-being, Dr Lisa Chimes recommends contacting the free Purina PetCare advice line on 1800 738 238.
For more information about pet ownership or finding the right products to help keep your pet happy and healthy over the holiday season, visit the Purina website www.purina.com.au or Facebook page www.facebook.com/PurinaAustralia
Purina has more than 80 years of global experience in pet care and nutrition.