Great Britain

Editor’s comment: Show your caring side at Christmas

Christmas pets

The decorations and lights have been up for a couple of weeks, we've battled the shopping crowds, bought the turkey and wrapped the presents.

With Christmas celebrations now in full swing, I hope you all have a great time. Please remember elderly neighbours and relatives who may be feeling a bit more lonely at this time of year as all the focus is on family gatherings.

Even just inviting them in on Christmas morning for a cup of tea and a mince pie could brighten their day.

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And while we're all allowing ourselves a few extra treats and indulgences, be mindful of the health implications that overfeeding pets can cause.

We all want our pets to enjoy the Christmas period too, but some human food can cause digestive upset, or even be a serious danger to dogs.

John Burns, a veterinary surgeon and found of Burns Pet Nutrition, says: "Many common issues we see in dogs, like itchy skin, persistent moulting, tear-staining and digestive problems, are tell-tale signs of toxic waste build up in a dog's body caused by an unsuitable diet and/or overfeeding.

"Obesity is one of the biggest health and welfare issues facing our pets and can cause a number of problems in dogs like diabetes, arthritis and joint problems, as well as cutting their lifespan, so it's important not to forget about portion control during the festive period. If you're treating your pet to some leftovers, consider their meals for the rest of the day and try to stick to their normal food quantities for an average day.

The kind of goodies you treat your pets to at Christmas is also an important consideration. Giving them small amounts of boneless meat and veggies from your Christmas dinner, such as broccoli, carrots and potatoes, are unlikely to cause harm, but some human foods are not safe for dogs. Chocolate, mince pies, onions, garlic and other bulb vegetables like leeks and shallots are an absolute no-no for dogs, while salty, fatty foods like turkey skin, gravy and pigs in blankets can cause stomach upset."