December has officially arrived, a season full of twinkling lights and festive cheer. It's definitely my favorite time of year. If you are anything like me, you will love decorating the tree and getting prepared for the festivities ahead. However you may not all be aware of the risks associated with some decorations which we choose to use.
If you are the creative type you may decide to make some homemade salt dough decorations for the tree. Even though they do not look very tempting to us our canine companions will not be able to resist. Ingestion of this dough can cause salt poisoning and a variable range of health concerns such as vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, tremors and dehydration. In more severe cases muscle rigidity, convulsions, coma or kidney failure can develop.
Christmas trees themselves are known to be low on the toxicity scale. Mostly causing mild signs of vomiting or diarrhea. However they can pose as a risk for blockage or puncturing of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested. Of course real trees are also very sharp and any fallen needles may be painful for your four legged friends to walk on.
Most of us know that chocolate is not good for our little furry friends as it contains theobromine. Don't forget to keep your chocolate advent calendars out of reach! Other things which should be kept hidden away from our doggies this Christmas include: mince pie's, Christmas cake, sweets and cooked bones from your turkey on Christmas day!
For any of you that own a little hamster, it is worth knowing that there is a chance they could go into a state of hibernation if the temperature is too cold within your home. Signs of hibernation can seem very similar to that of a deceased hamster. This is because their heart rate can slow to as little as 4 beats per minute and they may only breathe once every 2 minutes. Whilst hibernating the limbs will feel more rigid but can still be slightly extended by gently pulling the limb forward. Another technique used to distinguish this is by stroking the whiskers to see if it results in a slight twitch. Sometimes hibernating hamsters can seem very limp, or be in a coma like state, so it is worth taking them to the Vets if you are unsure about your hamsters situation. Reducing the chances of this happening include maintaining a room temperature of over 15 degrees and keeping the room well lit for a minimum of 12 hours a day.
Similarly, in the wild rabbits can adapt their environment to cope with temperature extremes - they do this by making tunnels up to 3 meters deep and finding hay to nestle in and keep them warm. It's important to help your rabbits this winter by providing some shelter making sure they are dry and can find some insulation- protection from wind especially cold north winds, a roof, nest box (shavings and straw) and fresh ventilation are all important to keep your rabbit comfortable as the temperatures drop. Also to check their water is not frozen, and adequate food as they'll burn more energy keeping warm.
A little reminder to make sure you have enough medicine for your little one over the Christmas break as we are closed Christmas day, Boxing day and New years day.
The other day I heard a lovely heart warming story. Some of you may remember the story of Scuba's mum, Emily, saving Scuba's life by giving her CPR after she nearly drowned. Well Scuba and Emily's other dog, Jake have certainly returned the favor. Emily was out on a winters walk when she noticed a little Border terrier called Bella was in the river, seeming distressed, barking. Emily decided she wanted to help Bella and make sure she got out safely. Emily tried to use a slip lead to help Bella out but unfortunately Emily then fell in herself finding herself trapped and unable to get out. Amazingly Emily managed to lift Bella out but Scuba's lead got caught around Bella, which Emily was still holding on to. This meant that Emily had to keep Scuba nice and calm as the lead was the only thing stopping Bella from falling back in again! After struggling, Emily told, her other jack Russell, Jake to go and get help, and amazingly Jake did just that! Jake, normally quite a nervous dog, ran off for quite a distance to start barking at a passer by. He would not stop barking at him until he followed Jake, where Jake directed him to where Emily was stuck. The passer by was then able to make sure that all the dogs were safe but still had trouble trying to get Emily out. In the end Emily had to swim to a near by tree, in the freezing water, to be able to hoist herself out. Thankfully, Emily eventually managed to get out safely. Scuba and Jake definitely were Emily's heroes that day!
The Christmas photo competition has begun. Send in a festive snap of your four legged friends for the chance to win a lovely hamper full of goodies for you and your companion. You can email, send by post or use Facebook. All entries must be in by Friday 22nd December. Good luck!
I will leave you with the last animal fact of the year: Gentoo penguins propose to their life mates with a pebble!
Merry Christmas to you all, thanks for reading!
Holly Smith @ Team Ashman Jones