Expert advice on caring for your pets this festive season

The holiday season can pose many threats to pets.

The holiday season can pose many threats to pets.

Published Dec 13, 2023


The holiday season is filled with a range of festivities which could be hazardous for pets.

During the end-of-year holidays, our furry friends are at higher risk as they often experience changes in routines, exposure to new environments and interactions with unfamiliar substances.

These can harm animals and prove to be costly. That’s why having a reliable pet insurance policy is crucial.

The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) has noted the benefits of comprehensive pet insurance coverage.

“From festive decorations to rich holiday foods, there are numerous potential risks that could pose a threat to the health and safety of our furry friends,” SAVA president, Paul van der Merwe, said.

“This festive season, SAVA encourages responsible pet ownership and taking proactive measures to safeguard the health and well-being of pets.”

By obtaining pet insurance, pet owners can enjoy the holiday season with peace of mind, knowing that they are prepared for any unforeseen veterinary expenses that may arise.

He also recommended that pet owners carefully review and select a pet insurance plan that suits their pet’s specific needs.

“Factors to consider include coverage for accidents, illnesses, medications, surgeries and preventive care,” Van der Merwe said.

“Additionally, it’s essential to understand the policy’s terms, conditions and any exclusions.”

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim also cautioned against the dangers that pets could face during the festive season.

“As people travel to the beach or head off to the mountains, many of them will be taking their furry companions with them,” added Jaisheila Keshav, head of Animal Health South Africa at Boehringer Ingelheim.

“But, if you’re taking your dogs on holiday with you, it’s important to remember to take care of their health while you’re away.”

Keshav explained that ticks pose the biggest risk for pets in the bush.

“These external parasites not only cause irritation to the skin where they attach, but also transmit a disease called babesiosis (also known as tickbite fever) to dogs.”

“Babesia parasites invade the red blood cells of the dog causing anaemia, which can be fatal,” she said.

Keshav explained that the signs to look out for include lethargy and lack of appetite.

“If you suspect that your pet might have babesiosis, see a vet immediately.”

The head of Animal Health South Africa at Boehringer Ingelheim also urged pet owners to check their dogs for ticks regularly.

This applies if they go for walks in the bush or even when they are playing outside.

At the beach, Keshav explained that fleas and internal parasites are the biggest danger.

“Fleas cause itchiness and discomfort and can be a vehicle for other pathogens, which could make your dog ill,” she said.

“In this case, we advise an appropriate flea control product.”

Keshav said that if pet owners suspect that their furry friend is unwell and is exhibiting any of the above-mentioned symptoms, they should take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Cape Times