Latest News

Keeping Furry Friends Safe during the Festive Season

The emergency department at Sydney’s Small Animal Specialist Hospital is prepping for a busy festive season, with an increase in holiday-related incidents expected over the Christmas break.

The team at SASH are urging all pet owners to take extra care over Christmas in a bid to avoid unnecessary vet visits, particularly when it comes to taking your furry friends on holidays or giving them special holiday treats.

Dr Tim Hopkins, Emergency and Critical Care Vet at SASH, says that holiday incidents are easily avoidable and there are plenty of things pet owners can do to make the holidays just as enjoyable for their pets.

“Lots of people are travelling with their pets during this time, so it’s important to consider what it’s going to be like for your pet there,” he said.

“If you’re heading up to Noosa for example, you might not have given your pet tick prevention treatment which they’ll need heading into tick territory especially.”

The team at SASH recently helped a 9-year-old Beagle, Charlie - who swallowed over 600 grams of chocolate, plus the wrappers.

“Most people know how dangerous chocolate can be for dogs, but it’s just as important to look out for the wrappers and other packaging that pets can ingest, so your Christmas morning of opening presents isn’t derailed by a trip to the emergency vet,” said Dr Hopkins.

And if you notice some rum balls missing or your pet has taken a sizeable chomp from the fruitcake, the Animal Poisons Helpline is available 7-days a week for free advice.

Dr Adi Frisch, Poisons Information Specialist from the Animal Poisons Helpline says the service often gets calls relating to alcohol, chocolate, BBQ meats and even poinsettias, but it is also important for things like rat, ant and cockroach poisons to be kept well clear of pets.

“If something does happen, the best thing to do is to call the helpline to check if you should be worried and get a full risk assessment in order to make the decision if you should be taking your animal to the vet,” she said.

The festive season also means fireworks, which can place dogs under a lot of stress, however Dr Hopkins says that pet owners can make their dogs feel more comfortable in the lead up to New Year’s Eve by slowly desensitising them with firework sounds over the course of a few weeks.

“It takes a bit of time but playing fireworks sounds at a very low-level during mealtime and slowly increasing the volume over time, can be much more effective than medication and can solve some noise phobias for good.”

Dr Tim also warns that some of the sedative drugs given to help dogs with firework anxiety can do more harm than good, with some actually making pets more sensitive to noise and cause them even greater distress.

“If you give your dog medication to calm them when the fireworks are already on, it’s too late. Start slowly desensitising your dog, with a veterinary behaviourist ideally, so that by the time New Year’s has rolled around, it’s just a normal day,” he said.

In an Australian summer, it is also important to make sure your pet is comfortable during the hot weather and is well hydrated. It’s recommended to avoid walking dogs in the heat of the day and make sure there’s plenty of water available.

This year, SASH opened a brand-new Emergency and Critical care unit which is open 24 hours, 7 days a week for walk ins so while pet owners can do their best to prepare for the holiday season, they can rest easy knowing there are services available over this time.

To learn more about SASH, visit or contact (02) 9199 7250.

 MEDIA RELEASE, 16th December 2021

Related Topics:

8 Tips to Keep Pets Cool and Hydrated

Getting Dogs through Noise Phobia

Summertime safety: tips for a safe holiday season with your dog


No comments

Post a Comment