On the first Day of Christmas... it felt like the world and his dog came round to visit. The house descended into chaos for the whole afternoon. Uncle Jack had one too many, Gran, told her when she met dad story (again and again) to anyone who would listen and the kids, amidst much laughter and shouting, played hunt the parcel... searching under the sofa, over the sofa, in the freezer, in the bathroom cupboards, even the dog’s bed had a thorough shake up. When I said they should leave the dog out of it they said it was alright because the dog wasn’t there.When I went to investigate his whereabouts, I found him sitting very miserably behind the kitchen door shaking!So, Christmas, okay for us, we know what’s going on and the noise and bustle is all part of it but what about our pets?Apart from the fact that most pets don’t cope well with having their routines upset, Christmas is fraught with danger for them. Sometimes the danger can be fatal. A cooked turkey bone, for instance, can choke a pet or worse cause a rupture... whilst you may be shaking your head at the thought of giving your pet a cooked bone to chew on it is amazing how many people just don’t know that it’s not a good thing to do. Vets report the number of pets that come in with food related problems almost doubles at Christmas. But this is not the only hazard. Cats and house rabbits in particular love to play and chew – here you need to think about Christmas lights, glass baubles, pine needles and more.However it’s not all doom and gloom. With a little care and forethought we can ensure that our pets have as good a time as us. By knowing what the dangers are we can avoid them and cut the risks of upset by a significant amount.So, the Christmas Survival Guide:1. Food – eating human food is never a good idea for our pets. Some of it is simply too rich for them and upsets their stomachs. Other foods, such as grapes and raisins are actually poisonous. So don’t be tempted to give your dog the last nibble of mince pie, however lovingly he begs, because mincemeat contains both of these foods.2. Similarly chocolate – in our house there is so much chocolate floating about that the kids sometimes forget about it and leave it lying on the sides of chairs or even on the floor. And even though chocolate is poisonous to dogs they will still eat it. Dogs are natural scavengers!3. Christmas plants are also another hazard. Poinsettia’s and holly can both cause stomach upsets – cats being naturally curious will undoubtedly want to investigate, so try to place them somewhere the cat cannot get at them easily.4. Christmas lights - are just begging to be chewed through – house rabbits especially love to chew but don’t discount dogs, in particular puppies, cats/kittens, pet rats, mice....and so on.5. If you have a real live tree remember that pine needs are sharp and can act like a pin, sticking into paws and feet if it comes to that! Try to brush up the most of them on a daily basis and once that tree starts dropping its needles then it’s really time for it to go!6. Some decorations are made of glass – if you must have glass baubles then try to place them out of paws way. By securely fastening them too helps stop your cat knocking them onto the floor and breaking them.7. Crackers, party poppers and champagne corks! All of these cause not only physical harm (by accidentally ingesting them) but emotional upset too. Our dog has been known to cower at the very sight of a cracker. Needless to say we now don’t pull them when he’s in the house! It’s really not a big deal to organise. Simply send someone out on a walk with them and leave the bangs to those that like them.8. Noise - before the Christmas season starts properly, look round the house and try to find a safe spot that your pet can retreat to where it will feel safe and secure. If needs be make your pet a DO NOT DISTURB SIGN and hang it above their special place. Do not hesitate to tell the children, especially visiting children, who may not understand that an animal is a living thing and not a toy, to leave the dog/cat alone. It does not want to be carried about, dressed up in a Spiderman costume or pushed around in a dolls pushchair.10. Last but not by any means least... when you’ve finished reading these simple guidelines, be sure to pass them on. Make it your mission this coming festive season, to ensure that pets too have a very happy and safe Christmas.