Jingle balls, jingle balls, jingle all the way…

We’re all hoping for a cosy Christmas this year, spending time with loved ones, including our furry family members. Amid all the festive flurry, to ensure that it really is the most wonderful time of the year, remember to keep a close eye on your pets – particularly young puppies and kittens – as there are all sorts of ways
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9th December 2021

We’re all hoping for a cosy Christmas this year, spending time with loved ones, including our furry family members. Amid all the festive flurry, to ensure that it really is the most wonderful time of the year, remember to keep a close eye on your pets – particularly young puppies and kittens – as there are all sorts of ways that they can get into mischief.

Find out why festive food is a no-no for pets, all about the dangers of Christmas decorations and the potential pitfalls of party season. Plus, we’ve some great ideas for interactive toys for dogs, cats and indoor bunnies that will keep your pet pals busy on the big day to ensure a fun, festive time will be had by all.

Paws off festive food

The traditional Christmas fayre that we humans love can make our pets very poorly – so ignore those pleading eyes. It’s far better to keep your pets on their usual Burgess diet and play an extra game with them instead. Foods to keep well away from pets include:

  • Mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake: Raisins and sultanas (as well as grapes) are highly toxic to pets, causing serious, potentially fatal kidney problems.
  • Nutmeg: This seasonal spice used in eggnog, biscuits and puddings is poisonous to pets, causing tremors, seizures and damage to the central nervous system.
  • Macadamia nuts: These can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremors, lameness, vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs.
  • Chocolate: This contains theobromine, which can be fatal to dogs if they eat it in sufficient quantities.
  • Xylitol: This artificial sweetener sneaks its way into all sorts of foods – from peanut butter to jellies and jams and is highly toxic to canines. After a dog consumes a significant amount of xylitol, there is a massive release of insulin from the pancreas. This, in turn, results in a dangerously low blood sugar level and symptoms such as weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death.
  • Pigs in blankets: Fatty, salty meats such as pork can lead to pancreatitis.
  • Onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and chives: These all belong to the Allium species of plants and, whether uncooked or cooked, are toxic to pets. Initially there can be vomiting and diarrhoea, but the main effect is damage to red blood cells, resulting in anaemia.
  • Table scraps (in large amounts): A bit of cooked, lean meat with the fat trimmed off and a small amount of boiled vegetables, such as carrots, peas and broccoli, is OK as a treat for your dog, but table scraps should not be fed regularly as they are not nutritionally balanced and can lead to obesity. Cooked turkey bones can splinter and become lodged in an animal’s throat or perforate the intestinal tract, which can be life-threatening. Ensure turkey carcasses and bones are bagged-up and safely disposed of somewhere that your pets cannot get to them.
  • Gravy: If made from meat juices, it can contain high levels of fat, which can cause pancreatitis.
  • Alcohol: In severe cases, when alcohol is ingested, there’s a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma. Make sure any unattended alcohol is kept out of reach to prevent curious pets from helping themselves to a sneaky tipple.

Discover more about the festive foods you should keep away from your pets over Christmas >>

Decoration danger

Whether you like to deck your halls with sprigs of mistletoe and holly, festoons of fairy lights or glittering baubles, make sure they’re well out of reach of inquisitive paws and noses.

  • Anything that sparkles, dangles or flashes will be a magnet for puppies and kittens, so make sure there’s no way they can be reached by your pets. Avoid glass baubles at all costs – if they get accidentally smashed, sharp shards can cause nasty injuries.
  • If you hang strings of fairy lights, make sure your pets can’t get tangled up in them – if they bite through the wire it could result in an electric shock. This is particularly important if you have house bunnies as, in the wild, while burrowing, rabbits chew through roots and they will treat wires in the same way. Don’t be tempted to decorate small pets’ cages with tinsel or strings of sparkling lights – as well as being dangerous to curious nibblers, they’re likely to find flashing bulbs very distressing. And always think safety first – switch your Christmas lights off at the mains when you’re not at home.
  • Go steady with the spray snow – while it looks pretty, if your dog, cat or rabbit decides it’s something to be scratched at or licked off, they’ll ingest harmful chemicals.
  • Keep Blu Tack safely out of reach while you’re putting up cards and trimmings – if eaten, it may cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, amaryllis and lilies are all festive floral favourites – but they’re also highly toxic to pets. Avoid or position well away from inquisitive noses – and regularly check that any greenery isn’t dropping poisonous berries for your pets to find.
  • If you have a real Christmas tree, regularly vacuum up the pine needles as these can puncture your pet's intestines if ingested and painfully prick paws. Don’t let your dog drink the tree water, which is likely to contain chemicals. Nibbling or licking a real Christmas tree won’t do your pets any good either as these trees produce oils that can be toxic, making animals very unwell. If you have a cat who likes to climb, make sure they’re never left unsupervised in the room containing the festive tree. You could try a cat-safe parasol tree, with branches that start halfway up, so your perfectly placed baubles are out of reach – a great solution if you have kittens, cats, puppies or house bunnies.

Avoid these party poopers

Putting in place a few, simple measures will keep the celebrations safe and stress-free.

  • The sudden appearance of mysterious boxes wrapped in paper and bows will attract the attention of playful pets. So, unless you want yours unwrapped and shredded by Santa’s little helper, keep them hidden away.
  • Once the present-opening frenzy is over on Christmas morning, collect up all the debris. Wrappings and bows can be dangerous if chewed or swallowed and there may be other toxic items lurking – from packets of silica gel often included in the packaging of shoes, handbags and even dog treats, to small parts of children’s toys that can easily be swallowed.
  • Unfamiliar people coming and going may unsettle your pets, so make sure they have access to a quiet room or familiar space, where they can escape from the party and potential over-the-top petting and treat giving from tipsy relatives or overexcited children. Cats and indoor bunnies will appreciate some hidey-holes to retreat to. Try to stick to your daily routine – such as feeding and exercise times – as this will help your pets feel less stressed by all the unusual activity. Check that doors are not left open, inviting pets to slip out unnoticed.
  • Most animals have incredibly sensitive hearing, so the best advice is to avoid crackers and party poppers – and be pet aware when popping the cork on the prosecco. Small animals are particularly sensitive to high frequency sounds that we can't hear – so keep them away from televisions and stereos and consider carefully moving cages to quieter parts of the house if you’re having a party.

Toys to keep your furry friends happy and occupied

As you wrestle the turkey out of the oven, hand out presents or kick off a game of Christmas charades, provide your pets with extra special presents to distract them from the action and keep them happily busy. Here are a few ideas:


  • Olive the octopus eco toy Made from sustainable jute and soft suede with zero waste, this large natural dog toy has a sturdy body and hanging jute legs. Ideal for chewy dogs – and good for the environment.
  • Snuffle sprout mat This is a snuffle game designed to challenge your dog to find their favourite food, using their noses, paws and teeth.
  • Catch and flash dog ball – It always gets dark early on Christmas Day, but your canine chum doesn’t have to miss out on some ball-chasing fun. This multi-coloured light up ball flashes on impact and has a high bounce for maximum enjoyment.


  • Cat spring toy This pack of six sturdy but lightweight plastic spring toys will provide hours of interactive fun for cats and kittens. Simply throw on the ground and the spring will bounce up and catch your cat's attention. Add some cat toy jingle balls for even more festive fun.
  • Interactive teaser cat toy Made from 100% wool felt from Yorkshire and natural jute string with a wooden ball handle, this durable and stylish handmade teaser cat toy comes in dark grey, light grey and off white and is highly rated by cat owners, providing hours of chasing, leaping and pouncing fun.
  • Jolly Moggy mice duo Two colourful patchwork mice, infused with catnip, make a purrfect present. Place inside a Hide and Sleep cat unit, designed and developed by Cats Protection, and your favourite feline will have the cosiest, chilled out Christmas ever.


  • Rabbit hay feeder This durable, hand stitched rabbit hay feeder from Everything Bunny Rabbit features a double hay opening, triple secured webbing and dog clips so they can be attached to cages, hutches and runs. Fill with your buns’ favourite hay

(which now comes in a cardboard box, which you can re-use by cutting out an entrance hole to create a bunny hideout) and some Nature Snacks using the top opening and they can enjoy pulling it out and munching to their hearts content. This design also helps keeps the hay off the cage floor and encourages stretching, foraging and enrichment.

  • Snuffle ball These super cute snuffle balls made from folds of fluffy fabric are a toy and puzzle in one and are ideal for hiding some tasty nuggets in for your buns to sniff, roll, dig out and munch on.
  • Christmas nibble wreaths – Made from meadow hay bound with 100% organic sisal that’s easy for herbivores to digest without causing intestinal blockages, and decorated with organic pinecones, organic blackberry sticks and natural raffia bows, these gorgeous festive nibble wreaths are sure to be a hit with your bunnies.

PLUS! If you have small furries, indoor or outdoor, who love scurrying through tunnels, then a Runaround kit would make the perfect gift. There are all sorts of options, including the Top Box Deluxe , which is a complete system where your pets can enjoy a spacious, safe and varied environment.

When it comes to enriching toys for your pets, why not get crafty and have a go at making some yourself? >>

Is your pet a Burgess pet? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

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