All posts by Louth SPCA

Cruelty Cases On The Rise

We don’t really highlight the cruelty cases we come across too much here at Louth SPCA, more often you read about the animals needing homes AFTER they’ve been treated and not about what they went through before. Our Inspector Fiona really does see it all, and she has many (sad) stories to tell. Unfortunately, it never lets up, and recently, may even be on the increase. Here are a few examples.

First there was a dog found in a back garden having had its leg broken a few days before (can’t put up photo up currently). It was taken into care of Louth SPCA and had to have an operation to put pins in the broken leg,  so is now in a foster care and doing really well, thankfully.

Second dog was found in the owner’s garden absolutely starving to death. He was a wee Terrier and was so underweight we can’t
vaccinate him until he puts on some weight. Another very lucky dog to have a great foster home, where he has found the couch and is currently loving life. Even starting to play and be a normal dog again.

The third case is a Rottweiler found by a member of public up the mountain, tied to a gate. He was malnourished and had
a tumour on his foot, God knows how long he was there in and what weather he had to endure. We were alerted and have taken care of him. He is 11 years old, so senior citizen really. Poor lad was in a
lot of pain, but he had his operation this week and is now in our kennels to get TLC. A very upsetting case nonetheless.

These are just some examples of what we come across, and not even the most disturbing of them. We are completely dependent on members of the public to report these cases, and more often than not we can help the animal that is being abuses, but only if you inform us.

For all reports of animal cruelty, please contact us directly

Phone: 042 9335045

If there is no answer (the kennels can get very busy) then please


with as much information as possible. You can also use the below form.

Do NOT report incidents via Facebook or Twitter, as they are not guaranteed to be seen by our inspector.

Report A Case Of Animal Cruelty

Your name will not be mentioned to anyone we confront over animal cruelty. This is for our internal information only.
Please provide a number we can contact you at for more details if required.
Please provide an email we can contact you at for more details if required.
Please provide as much details as possible, especially the ADDRESS of the incident. Any other information including your description of the case would be most useful.
Please consent to your data being stored by us for future use internal to the society.
You're going to need to prove that!
reCAPTCHA is required.

How to Care for Horses, Ponies & Donkies

Owning a horse or pony can be very rewarding, but it is a huge responsibility and very hard work. You need time, money, commitment and access to suitable land.  Every responsible horse owner and handler will need to keep themselves updated on all aspects of horse care and information in order to ensure their animals live a long, happy and healthy life.  It’s no secret that horses require a certain level of care, including exercise, grooming and vaccinations.

Depending on where you live / keep your horse you may need to have a licence to keep a Horse, Pony or Donkey.

When you get your horse you should get him micro-chipped and registered on a database.  The micro-chip is injected into the horses neck and should not cause him any discomfort.  You should also keep a record of the micro-chip number on his passport or identity card.

Another thing to consider when you get your horse is horse and rider insurance – Allianz can give you full details on the cover provided.  Check out their website on

Most horses and ponies can live for over 20 years and some can even live into their 30’s, so owning a horse is very much a long term commitment.


Horses, in their natural state, live in herds, and they love the company of their own kind.  As such they are also designed to graze in open spaces.  It is better for them to live outside then be permanently stabled, but if the horse is to live outdoors all the time, then they must have access to suitable shelter when the weather is too hot, cold or wet.

Horses are very much creatures of habit, and are more relaxed in a stable routine with the same thing happening at the same time every day, especially when it comes to feeding times.


When handling your horse always be aware of the look in his eye.  This will help you to know his thoughts and to anticipate his movements, be they friendly or aggressive.

For everything else the golden rules are to speak quietly, handle the horse firmly but gently and avoid sudden movements that could startle the horse and panic.

Always speak to any horse before you approach it and while you are handling or working around the horse.  This allows the horse to be able to recognise the voice of the person who feeds him or from whom kindness is expected.  It can also make it easier to catch if the horse is out with his mates in a big field – he will hear your voice and know to come to you.

When moving your horse you should either use a correctly fitted head-collar or a halter.  If you are using a head-collar these can be generally left on the horse when they are out in a field, provided there is nothing for the horse to catch the collar on, such as branches or broken fencing.  Halters are not designed to be left on the horse as the excess rope that is used to lead the horse cannot be removed and so will be left to trail on the ground, which means it can get caught or the horse can step on it and injury himself.

If you are leaving the head-collar on the horse, be sure that it fits snugly – not too tight that it can rub the horse, but not too loose that it gets caught in branches.  You should also check and clean the head-collar regularly to be sure that there is no build up of dirt and causing an irritation to the horse.

When leading your horse, you should be able to lead the horse on both sides.  However, majority of horses are used though to being led from the left hand side.  When leading a horse, always walk at his shoulder – it is harder from him to kick out or step on you if you are beside his front leg.

If you must lead a horse on a road, the horse must travel in the same direction as the traffic and the person leading the horse should be between the horse and the traffic.  This is for your own safety – if the horse spooks away from the traffic he will also be spooking away from you and so you won’t end up being squished by a frightened or nervous horse.

Horse in the Field

If the field and horse are properly managed, many horses and ponies thrive on living out in fields and it can save you considerable time and money.

In the growing seasons of spring and early summer, if the fields are big enough they will be sufficient to provide the horses their full dietary requirements.  In this case, you will only need to provide fresh water and a salt-lick.  Grass-kept horses are also able to exercise themselves as they are not constricted by space – this will also reduce the necessity for you to exercise them every day.

The downside of keeping your horse at grass, is that they can get very dirty and wet, he can decide not be caught when you want him, it is very difficult to regulate the diet and during the winter extra feed may need to be put out if the grass is inadequate or the horse is doing a lot of work.

It is very hard to give you hard and fast rules about the amount of land needed to support a horse.  A lot depends on the quality of the grass in the area, the drainage of the land and the nature of the soil.  If a number of horses are being kept in the one field then the general rule of thumb on the minimum size the field should be is one acre per horse.  But a field the size of one acre is not big enough for a single horse – they need to be able to move around.

Ideally, you should rotate fields so that the fields have a chance to rest and the grass gets a chance to grow.  Constant grazing in the one field can make the field horse sick, and therefore, unsuitable for the horses to remain on.

In order to ensure your horses are safe from wandering off the field and into traffic or populated areas the field needs to be properly secured.  Properly treated post and rail fencing with a hedge at the back are considered the best, but so are properly maintained thick hedges and stone walls.  The main points to note when securing your fields are the following –

  • Can the horse easily jump the fence
  • Can the horse push through the fence
  • Can the horse injury himself from sharp edges, barbwire, or protruding nails.

The following plants are poisonous and they should be removed before leaving a horse in the field:

  • Privet
  • Ragwort – by law this plant should be cleared from grazing land on a regular basis
  • Foxglove
  • Yew
  • Horsetail
  • Hemlock
  • Laburnum
  • Acorn (oak)
  • Nightshade – woody, black and deadly varieties

If you decide to keep your horse in a field, you will still need to provide the horse with some form of shelter from the elements.  Our weather is getting more extreme with heavy snow falls, cold spells to heavy rain and heat waves.

A shelter shed should be built in the corner of a field with its back to the prevailing wind and easily accessible for feeding.  It should be positioned so that a horse cannot get trapped between it and the boundary fence.  A shed which is open fronted will also lessen the possibility of one horse being cornered and injured by another.  Also don’t remove the cobwebs as they act as a useful and free trap for flies.  You may not see your horses using the shelter that much in the winter, but in the summer they provide great protection from flies.

NB: Your horse should always have access to clean fresh water.

If a stream runs through the field make sure that the approach to the water is not steep or likely to cause injury to the horse.  Also the water should be free flowing and not stagnant.  If there is no stream in the field then you need to supply water to the field.  A large trough or old bathtubs with smooth edges are ideal.  They should be checked and cleaned regularly at the very least twice a day, more in hot weather and any ice taken out during cold weather.


The rules to good feeding are as follows:

  • Clean fresh water must be available at all times
  • Feed little and often (for their size horses have very small stomachs)
  • Feed according to work, temperament and condition – if you have a big cob he may need a higher energy feed then your flighty thoroughbred.  Also the sick horse will be on a different feed to the health horse.  Like people, each horse is different so you need to change your feeds to suit each horse
  • Keep to the same feeding hours each day
  • Do not work hard immediately after feeding – take your horse out of the field at the very least ½ hour before riding him, depending on the work he is about to do
  • Feed adequate roughage – grass, hay, chaff or bran
  • Introduce changes to feed gradually – horses have sensitive digestive systems if you change their diet too quickly they can get colic and other illness.
  • Feed clean, good quality forage – you would not eat bread covered in mould, so don’t give mouldy feed to your horse
  • Feed something succulent every day – depending on your horse, this can mean grass or a carrot.

If the field has not got enough grass for the horses or they are doing hard work, you will need to supplement their grass diet with hay and what are called ‘hard feeds’.  These are oats, barley, pony cubes, mixes etc.  In order to give your horse the correct hard feeds you should talk to your supplier about the right diet for your horse taking into account the amount of work the horse is expected to do each day, the type of horse you have and the condition he is in.


Most Irish horse, like the draught and cob, will not need rugs.  If the horse is fit and healthy, their own coat will keep them comfortable and warm, but if he has been clipped, or if his coat is very fine and he is groomed regularly then you will need to put a rug on to protect him from the cold.  This is why the grass kept horse should not be groomed on a regular basis.  You should check for any cuts, bumps or bruises on a daily basis, but only give him a light groom such as cleaning the feet and removing heavy mud and sweat marks.  This will allow the horse to maintain the natural oil balance in his coat and reduce the need to use a rug.


You don’t need to have all the latest products and gadgets to keep your horse clean and happy.  A few basic pieces will be sufficient.  The necessary things you should have are:

  • Hoof pick – absolute must have, if your horse can’t walk, you can’t ride him
  • Curry comb – either plastic or rubber, very good for lifting dirt off the coat, massaging the muscles and cleaning the body brush
  • Body brush – removes the dust and scurf from the coat, mane and tail
  • Water brush – for use with your bucket of water to remove heavy mud and stains
  • Sponge or cloth – for cleaning eyes, nose and muzzle and dock.  Don’t clean the dock and then the face – it would be like you cleaning your bum and then using the same towel on your face!!


Remember, ‘No Foot – No Horse’

Depending on your horse and the type of work he does your horse will need to see the farrier between 4 and 8 weeks, and they will also be able to tell you how you should look after their feet and whether or not they need shoes.  You should talk to your farrier about the best practice for your horse or pony.

Your farrier will also be able to help and advise if your horse has laminitis or other hoof related injuries / aliments.

Laminitis is a very serious condition which can cause severe lameness and deformity in the horses hoof.  There is no one cause for laminitis and there is no cure – but it can be controlled and prevented.  Every horse is different, so while one horse in a herd may develop the condition it does not mean all the horses will.  Some causes of Laminitis are too much rich feed, not enough exercise, standing still on hard ground all the time, pregnancy.

Laminitis is the inflammation and swelling of the sensitive areas in the horses hoof around the bone and behind the hoof wall.  The level of discomfort would be something akin to you putting on and wearing 24/7 a pair of shoes a size to small for you – causing your foot to be pressed into the narrower area with no room for movement.

If you suspect your horse has laminitis contact your vet immediately, followed by your farrier as he may need to remove or re-adjust the shoes on the horse to help relieve the discomfort.

Bad shoeing can also lead to laminitis, so make sure your farrier is fully qualified.


Just as you should go the dentist once a year for a check up so should your horse.  Horse’s teeth also need to be seen to on an annual basis.  Due to the nature of a horse’s diet and the way they eat, horses teeth can develop very sharp edges which will result in discomfort for the horse and in turn for you as the rider / handler.  There are specialist equine dentists in Ireland and some do come from the UK on an annual basis to visit yards.  So check with your local yard to see when the next dentist visit is planned.

Looking after a sick / injured horse

With the best intentions in the world, we cannot always prevent our horses and ponies from being sick or getting injured.  We can reduce the risks but sometimes these things just happen.  And when they do happen – the important thing is not to panic and not to leave the horse in pain.

To help reduce the chances of your horse getting Equine Flu or Tetanus you should have him vaccinated once a year and keep clear records of the injections on his passport / identification card.

A big problem facing a herd of horses is worms.  To prevent your horse getting ill from an infestation of worms you should worm your horse on a regular basis – roughly every 6 – 8 weeks.  Talk to your local vet to confirm the type of worming dose to give your horse throughout the year.  Different types of worms appear at different times of the year and no one product is effective against them all.

If your horse is sick or injured contact your vet straight away – it does not matter the time of day or night.  Depending on the severity of the injury / sickness the vet may tell you what to do over the phone or he may call out.

If you suspect your horse to have colic, contact your vet immediately.  Colic is a very serious condition.  The symptoms of colic include laying down and getting back up again repeatedly, the horse looking at their quarters (bum / hind legs), stamping the ground, swishing of their tail, unable to go to the toilet though they keep trying.  The horse may not present himself to you with all these symptoms – he may only show one or two, but you should be able to recognise in your own horse  through constant handling when he is not feeling well.

If your horse has an injury or illness, don’t keep riding the horse, unless the vet gives the all clear.  Give your horse a couple of days rest and then start back with gentle walking in hand before sitting up on him and taking him for gentle hacks.  You would not like to be asked to play a football match if you hurt your leg or were sick – so allow your horse time to recover before putting him back to hard work.

Going away on holiday

If you are going away on holiday have a friend agree to look after your horse while you are away.  Leave them the contact numbers of your vet and farrier and also any special diet requirements your horse is currently on.

Pony Rescue

Fiona was after this pony for the past 9 months but she disappeared for a bit. Finally a friend found her and she really needed treatment. Her feet were in awful condition, as you can see from the photo.

She has been taken into care and now and has a buddy called Beyonce. Her new name is “Misty”.

She will now get all the TLC and care she deserves. Happy ending!

What to do if you find a baby wild animal

Many wild animals are born during the spring and summer months. In your own back garden, you may come across baby rabbits, squirrels, deer, and other young wildlife as they make they make their way into the world.

For many people, the pleasure of seeing these young creatures is mixed with a sense of protectiveness—of wanting to help them survive. But spotting a baby animal by himself doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an orphan. Many wildlife parents leave their young alone during the day, sometimes for long periods. The mother is usually nearby and quite conscious of her young. Also, keep in mind that despite their small size, many young animals are actually independent enough to fend for themselves.

  • a wild animal presented to you by a cat or dog
  • bleeding
  • an apparent or obvious broken limb
  • shivering
  • evidence of a dead parent nearby

Wild animals can suffer greatly through being handled and this should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Injured or Sick?

If the baby has any one of the following signs, he or she is probably sick or injured and in need of assistance:

  • bleeding or wounded
  • seen in a cat’s or dog’s mouth, or if there is a likelihood that the animal was picked up by a cat or dog
  • wet and/or shivering
  • hit by a car, lawnmower, boat, or other vehicle
  • limping
  • a drooping wing (But if both wings appear to be “drooping” by the same amount, it could be normal—it depends on the species)

Some young animals appear injured when they’re not. If the animal has none of the above signs, he may be healthy.

Is the Animal Really an Orphan?

The Louth SPCA often receives phone calls about orphan animals that aren’t really orphaned at all. Many young animals may appear to be orphaned, but actually may be doing just fine on their own. Determining whether or not an animal is an orphan depends on the animal’s age and species, and how you may perceive their natural behaviors. Here’s more information on the young of species you may encounter, to help you decide whether or not they need to be rescued.

Baby Foxes

Often fox kits will appear unsupervised for long periods of time while their parents are out hunting for food. Observe the kits from a distance; if they seem energetic and healthy, just leave them alone. Only contact a wildlife rehabilitator if the kits appear sickly or weak, or if you have reason to believe both parents are dead.

Baby Rabbits

If you find a nest of baby rabbits and the nest is intact and the babies uninjured, leave them alone. Mother rabbits only visit their young 2-3 times a day to avoid attracting predators.

If the rabbit nest has been disturbed, or if you think the babies are orphaned, recover the nest with surrounding natural materials such as grass and leaves.

  • Put an “X” of sticks or yarn over the nest to assess if the mother is returning to nurse her young.
  • If the “X” is moved but the nest is still covered by the next day, the mother has returned to nurse the babies.
  • If the “X” remains undisturbed for 24 hours, contact a wildlife rehabilitator near you.

Keep all pets out of the area, as they will surely find and kill the young rabbits. Also, try not to touch the babies, as mother rabbits are very sensitive to foreign smells and may abandon their young. A rabbit who is four inches long with open eyes and erect ears is independent from his mother and able to fend for himself.

Baby Squirrels

If tree work was recently done and the nest or baby fell down as a result, give the mother squirrel a chance to reclaim her young.

If the baby is uninjured, leave him where he is, then leave the area and keep people and pets away. Monitor from a safe distance.

If the baby is not retrieved by sundown, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator. If it’s chilly outside, or the baby isn’t fully furred, place him in a shallow box with something warm underneath (like a heating pad on a low setting or a hot water bottle) so he doesn’t get cold and compromised while waiting for his mother to return. Do not cover the squirrel with leaves or blankets, as the mother may not be able to find him.

Note: A squirrel who is nearly full sized, has a full and fluffy tail and is able to run, jump, and climb is independent.

Baby Deer

If you come across a young deer, remember they are also very resilient in the wild but very difficult to rehabilitate once removed from their natural habitat – they often die from stress. People often mistakenly assume that a baby deer, called a fawn, is orphaned if found alone. Rest assured that the mother deer, the doe, is probably nearby. The doe will only visit and nurse her fawn a few times a day to avoid attracting predators. Roe deer give birth in May and June and fallow deer mostly have their young in June. Fawns can walk within an hour of being born. Unless you know the mother is dead, leave the fawn alone.

Mother deer are wary of human smells; if you have already handled the fawn, take a towel, rub it in the grass, and then wipe down the fawn to remove all human scent. Then return the fawn to the place where you found him.

If the fawn is lying on his side, or wandering and crying incessantly, he may be orphaned. If this is the case, call a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. But remember: a fawn found alone and quiet is okay.

If a wild animal exhibits any of the above signs, you should immediately call one of the following local resources for assistance. You will find listings for most of these in your telephone directory, or try an online search.

  • Local animal shelter
  • Animal control agency

Capture and Transport

Once you’ve contacted the right person, describe the animal and his physical condition as accurately as possible. Any wild animal can be dangerous, so take safety precautions, even with small babies. Unless directed otherwise, here’s how you can make an animal more comfortable for transport or while you’re waiting for help to arrive:

  • Prepare a cardboard box big enough to hold the baby. A shoe box works well for most song birds and small baby mammals, but some animals might need a larger box.
  • Line the box with an old t-shirt or soft cloth and poke holes in the sides before you put the animal in the box.
  • Wear gardening gloves if you are handling a small bird and leather gloves if you are handling a larger bird or a mammal.
  • For most animals, it is best to use a towel to cover the animal and then gently scoop her into the box and close the lid securely. But if the animal is a baby mammal larger than a small rodent (squirrel), it is best not handle her at all. Instead, use the box itself to scoop her up.
  • Do not give the animal food or water. He could choke, develop digestive problems, or drown. Many injured animals are in shock, and eating or drinking can make it worse. It is far more important to keep the baby warm and safe than to feed him immediately. If the rehabilitator is unable to arrive soon, he or she will instruct you on what else to do, if anything.
  • Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children, and noise—until you can transport the animal.
  • Transport the animal as soon as possible. While in the car, keep the carrier out of the sun and away from direct air conditioning or heat. Keep the car radio off and talking to a minimum.

Don’t Leave Dogs and Cats Outside in the Cold

You may have noticed the weather around the county has gotten bitterly cold, with temperatures dipping as low as minus 3 last night.  Naturally, you would keep yourself safe from this kind of cold, so make sure to do the same for your dogs, cats and other pets/animals!

First and foremost, DO NOT leave your dog outside in freezing cold temperatures. Dogs have been rescued or found dead in yards tied to trees or other stationary objects in icy and snowy elements. One of the most devastating things to come upon is a dog, or another animal, that has been tethered in the backyard during a winter freeze and to learn that the dog has actually frozen to the ground only to die from exposure. Being tied up and helpless to save yourself would be terrifying. Just think how our trusting pets feel when they are left in this state and unable to seek shelter, all while quickly succumbing to freezing temperatures.

Buy your dog a coat. This may sound silly to some people, but not all dogs have thick hair and older dogs feel the cold in their bones the way humans do when out walking. You can but a nice, warm, waterproof coat for your dog at any pet store or even online for less than 20 euro.

Dog CoatWhether house cat or outdoor cat, they need to be brought and kept indoors during cold weather. Scared and cold cats can get themselves into dangerous situations like getting stuck in pipes they have crawled into for warmth or hiding under car hoods on a warm engine.

As with hot weather, DO NOT leave pets in cold cars. Your car can quickly turn into an icebox, and result in their death.

Apply common sense in all cases – if conditions are undesirable for you, then they are undesirable or even dangerous to THEM. Your pet relies in you to keep them safe, make sure you do just that this winter.

What should I do before adopting an animal?

Any existing pets and your new arrival should be vaccinated for rabies, distemper, parvo, and other common diseases, as recommended by your vet. The bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine may also be recommended for dogs. There is a good chance that your new pet could be harboring a disease, and it isn’t wise to unnecessarily risk your other pets’ health. It would be ideal to keep incoming animals separate from your own pets for a period of time if you have the space to do so (and this is a must if you are introducing a dog that haven’t been fully vetted), but this isn’t always realistic since the animal will be living in your home as a member of the family.

In the case of dogs, make sure you have a well-fitted collar and ID tag. Remember that this dog doesn’t know you yet and might get spooked and run. Take all possible precautions. Better safe than sorry!

You will have to treat the new arrival like a puppy (or kitten!) at first. Puppy proof the house before he arrives. If he is young or has not been raised in a house, he might be destructive and not housetrained. You should set up a crate for him with bedding that can be easily cleaned or thrown away if soiled or chewed (like old towels).

If you choose not to use a crate, you should have a small, pet-safe room (like a laundry room) for when you cannot watch them. If you use an outdoor kennel for unsupervised time, make sure it is very secure (a cover or top is recommended) and be sure to provide appropriate shelter, shade, bedding, and clean water. Please also remember that cats like to be outside more than inside.

How to Care for Exotic Pets

Having a pet is a wonderful thing. Pets are great for children, teaching them responsibility, and they are fantastic company to those who may live alone. However, if you have exotic pets, there are some things you need to know about taking care of your pet. An exotic bird or reptile takes a different kind of care than a regular household dog or cat. Take a look at some ideas to keep in mind when caring for your exotic pets.

  1. Choose a proper vet. Since your pet is not an everyday, run of the mill kind of pet, you can’t choose just any old vet. You need to find a veterinarian who knows about your animal. Make sure your vet is willing to care for your exotic pet, as many vets may not take animals they are not familiar with.
  2. Start small. If you are just beginning with exotic pets, you wouldn’t want to choose a Burmese python. Start out with something smaller, like a guinea pig. This will help you get used to the different types and temperaments of the animals.
  3. Pay attention to their diets. For your exotic pet, you can’t just run to the grocery store and pick up a bag of food. In most cases, you’re going to have to do some careful planning to properly feed your pet. Do some research on the type of food your pet will eat.
  4. Create a safe environment. Likely, your exotic pet is living in an environment that is unfamiliar to them. Make sure the cage or room where you keep your pet is secure and safe from anything that may harm your pet. Also make sure your pet can’t escape the environment.

Exotic pets are fun and can really bring a lot of happiness in your life. Keep a few simple tips in mind for caring for the pets and you’ll have joy for many years to come. This website is a great resource for exotic pet owners.

Dogs and Fireworks

Adults and children alike look forward to the fireworks at Hallowe’en, New Year’s Eve and other occasions – but we sometimes forget that a lot of animals suffer terrible anxiety as a result of loud noise and flashing lights. You should keep your cat indoors if at all possible, but it is dogs who suffer the most around fireworks.

Some dogs have no problem with the sight and sound of fireworks if they’ve been desensitized — hunting dogs, for example, grow used to the sounds and smells of hunting rifles and gun powder. Most dogs, however, are not used to these things, so fireworks can be particularly stressful for them.

For example, more pets (dogs and cats) run away on Hallowe’en than any other day, so you should take extra steps to ensure their safety. Keep a keen eye on your pets during the commotion, and make sure your they are wearing proper identification.

You should arrange to have your dog in a place where there won’t be loud fireworks displays — a friend’s or relative’s home (ideally out of town) or a doggie day care with which your dog is familiar. If it’s an unfamiliar place for your dog, take him over there a few times in the days before the holiday so that it won’t be a surprise when you take him there before fireworks start firing off.

If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that they are nothing to worry about will also help him to relax. Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with energy, and will look to their pack leader for clues on how they should behave. If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well.

In all cases above, expend your dog’s excess energy first, before the fireworks start, by taking her on a very long walk to tire her out and put her in a calm state.

Consider purchasing an anxiety wrap (“thundershirt” in US) to keep your dog calm. They’ve been widely reported to work quite well at keeping dogs calm during fireworks.


Most importantly, don’t think of this in terms of your dog as your child who is missing out on a great, fun time. That’s human guilt. Your dog won’t know what she’s missing. You’re being a good pack leader by not exposing her to a situation that will trigger her flight instinct in a negative way. When the booms and bangs are over, your dog will be grateful to you for having made it a less stressful experience!



Pets and Christmas Food

A lot of the lovely food you feast on over the Christmas period can be very harmful to our faithful companions. Watch out for the following favourites that are most definitely NOT for your furry friend!


All kinds of chocolate and cocoa-based products – including chocolate tree decorations and chocolate advent calendars – should be kept away from pets because chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine. Theobromine is toxic to dogs and cats: it can lead to a racing heartbeat, dehydration, digestive upsets, seizures and in severe cases DEATH. The darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is. Make sure any presents you leave under the tree do not contain chocolate if you have a dog.

If you feel you really want your pooch to join in the Christmas fun, there is such a thing as chocolate suitable for dogs, which contains zero theobromine. It’s this or nothing for Fido.

Christmas Cake

Never share fruit cake, mince pies or Christmas pudding with your pet, no matter how much they beg, because raisins and currants are highly toxic to cats and dogs, even when cooked. Dried fruit poisoning can cause diarrhoea and vomiting and, in very serious cases, could lead to kidney failure!

Fizzy Drinks

Apart from being full of sugar or artificial sweetener – both of which are very bad for your pet – many fizzy drinks also contain caffeine, which has a similar effect to the theobromine in chocolate. Rapid breathing, restlessness and a racing heartbeat are the potential symptoms of serious caffeine poisoning.

Nuts and Crisps

Salty snacks are a festive staple, but they’re bad for your pet in many ways. Peanuts and crisps contain too much salt and fat, and macadamia nuts are highly toxic: they can cause sickness, a high temperature, tremors and heart palpitations. The effects of macadamia nut poisoning can happen very quickly, so keep all nuts well out of reach.

Sugar-free sweets and Chewing Gum

These days, the sweetener xylitol is often used to replace sugar in sweets, cakes and chewing gum. Too much xylitol has a laxative effect on humans, but the consequences for your pet are much more serious. An excess of Xylitol can spark a sudden surge of the hormone insulin which, in turn, can cause seizures, vomiting, lack of co-ordination and potential liver damage.


Keep festive cheeseboards away from hungry pets because dogs and cats can often struggle to digest the lactose in dairy products. Too much cheese can give your pet a tummy upset.

If you think your pet has eaten something potentially poisonous during the festive season, always contact your vet immediately.

So what CAN your pet eat at Christmas… aside from his own food, that is?

Christmas Turkey

The pièce de résistance of every Christmas dinner, your furry friend can enjoy small quantities of your turkey as long as all pieces are boneless, skinless and free from gravy or other marinades which can upset your pet’s stomach.


A super tasty side dish, again only feed your pet potatoes in small quantities – as they are starchy – and ensure they are plain with nothing else added, such as butter and salt.

Winter Vegetables

Carrots, parsnips, green beans, courgettes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas, spinach and cauliflower not only make yummy Christmas dinner trimmings but all great for your pet. Make sure you rinse off any excess butter or oil before giving to your furry friend and always feed in small quantities.