Animal charity issues warning over dressing up pets at Christmas
An animal charity is warning pet lovers against dressing them up over the festive period.
Carmel Murray, of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said: "Not all pets will tolerate wearing costumes, and it may cause them undue stress.
"Only dress up your pet for Christmas if you know they enjoy it. If you put your pet in a costume, make sure it does not limit the animal's movement, vision, ability to breathe or behave normally.
"Ensure the costume doesn't have any small, chewable pieces or toxic paints or dyes.
"Costumes on people can be equally scary to pets. People donning costume accessories may be distressing or trigger their territorial instincts."
She pointed out that there are some simple steps pet owners should consider - such as ensuring pets always have somewhere safe and secure and are preferably kept indoors during the festivities.
"We remind people as we approach the height of the Christmas celebration to be aware of the dangers the holiday poses to pets, and take extra measures if needed to safeguard the safety and well-being of animals, both domestic and wild," she said.
"It is best to keep any but the most social dogs or cats in a quiet, secure room. Microchipping is the best way to ensure that a lost pet will be returned to you.
"Owners can also train pets to become accustomed to the sounds of Christmas by playing sounds at low volumes.
"Not reacting to your pet showing signs of fear may be the best way to help them.
"Licking objects such as toys filled with peanut butter may help ease your pet's stress.
"Playing with them may also be a welcome distraction, but don't force it if your pet is too upset to play.
"If anyone is concerned that your pet is terrified of the noise at this time of year, owners may want to consult a vet to discuss ways of managing pet stress."
The charity is also urging the public to make a life-saving donation this Christmas to help it continue rescuing the most vulnerable animals.
Reports of animal cruelty are at an all-time high, with calls made to the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline already exceeding last year's figure of 16,211.
"Our financial resources are stretched this year," fundraising manager Rebecca Rushe said.
"Our inspectors are busier than ever bringing animals who are in need of care and rehabilitation to our centres.
"This Christmas, please support the ISPCA and donate to our work rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals from all over Ireland. Up to 88pc of ISPCA funding comes from donations from members of the public and gifts in wills.
"We rely on the generosity of the public to continue our vital work preventing animal cruelty and alleviating animal suffering.
"When you see horrific cases of animal cruelty like little dogs found by an ISPCA inspector abandoned in horrendous squalor in Cork, we need to ensure we can be there for more animals just like them."