If you're going away during the holidays, remember to book kennels or a pet minder well in advance. Places fill up fast at this time of year. Ensure vaccinations are up to date. Many quality kennels and catteries will require them to be done at least two weeks prior to their visit.
If travelling with your pet, there's a brilliant new non-drowsy motion sickness tablet available. Speak to your vet to arrange a prescription.
PLEASE think twice before giving someone a dog or cat as a present.
You may need to keep dogs and cats away from the Christmas tree. Hanging decorations are a novel excitement, but your pets may just destroy the tree in the process.
Did you know that chocolate is toxic to dogs? However, dogs do need to ingest quite a large volume to make them sick. Dark chocolate is the most potent form and white chocolate the least dangerous.
Macadamia nuts, another festive favourite, are poisonous to dogs.
Dogs may chew small toys and these could get stuck in their intestines. Similarly, some decorations such as tinsel may be swallowed, especially by cats. These can cause very serious intestinal blockages.
Do not overfeed your pets on Christmas dinner trimmings or leftovers. Engorging on fatty meals such as pork is the common cause of a very serious condition called pancreatitis. The symptoms are severe vomiting. Prompt veterinary attention is needed to diagnose and treat the condition.
Always be conscious of heatstroke during the hot summer months: Never leave pets confined in a car, even if it's in the shade, and only exercise them at the coolest times of the day. If your dog seems to be battling on a walk, stop and let him or her rest, have a drink and even cool down with a swim, if possible. Long haired dogs that really feel the heat can be hosed down before a walk to help keep them cool. Remember dogs are not able to perspire and panting is their only means of keeping cool.
Remember to keep up with your regular flea, tick and heartworm preventatives. These bugs are far more active and prevalent in the warmer weather.
Finally, enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially the four legged variety!
Dr Kevin Cruickshank is a South African trained and qualified vet living and practicing at the Gold Coast Vet Surgery in Queensland.