Caring for your pets this festive season

The South African summer signals beach holidays, quality time with family and delicious Christmas celebrations. Sadly this time of year also sees many animals being abandoned and forgotten.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA asks you to please remember that it is extremely important to not forget your companion animals and to keep them safe and stress-fee these holidays. Here are a few helpful hints to ensure your pets are loved and properly taken care of.


  • Decorations: Be careful with decorations as exposed wiring can electrocute a curious animal who chews on it. Discard wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and empty boxes as animals can easily become entangled. Mount your Christmas tree safely in a flat, wide-based container that cannot easily be pulled over. Tinsel strands can be deadly to pets and glass balls can shatter in an animal’s mouth.


  • Holiday entertaining: If you plan to entertain remember that noise and strangers can frighten animals. Keep them in a safe, peaceful environment instead. An animal’s hearing is far more acute and sensitive than a human’s. Therefore please be mindful when pulling Christmas crackers and popping champagne and balloons.


  • Dressing up pets: Animals deserve the right to natural freedom and being dressed up often causes unnecessary stress and discomfort to them. By all means include them in your family photos but let’s leave the costumes to Santa and his elves.


  • Responsible feeding: Do not feed your pets Christmas lunch left overs like bones, that can splinter and cause blockages. Also remember that chocolates are poisonous for animals as well as onions, grapes and citrus fruits in large quantities.


  • Holiday planning for animals: If you are going away for the holidays, try and choose a pet friendly destination. However, if you are leaving your pets behind, please arrange for a professional pet sitting service or a reliable family member or friend to look after them.  Reputable boarding kennels are also a good option. Abandoning your animals is a crime in terms of the Animals Protection Act and offenders could find themselves facing charges if they fail to ensure that their pets are well cared for in their absence.  If you have reason to believe that an animal has been abandoned, please call 0217004158/9 during office hours or 0833261604 after hours to report your suspicions.  You may remain anonymous.
  • Fireworks: Whilst humans may enjoy the spectacle of fireworks, they result in thousands of animals being injured and terrified every year.  Stay at home and keep your pets inside with you, your presence will comfort them.  If you know that your animals react badly to fireworks, please see your vet who can prescribe something to make the night less stressful for them. Choose kindness this New Year and don’t purchase or take part in firework activities.


  • Identification: 1 in 3 animals will go missing at some time in their life so ensure that your pets have a means of identification so should they stray, they can be quickly reunited with you. A microchip is the best form of identification and provides for undeniable proof of ownership.


  • Lost and Found: should your animal go missing over the festive period please make contact with your nearest SPCA to locate your animal. If you have found a stray please bring to the SPCA lost and found so we can assist in reuniting them with their owners. Call Lost and Found on 021 700 4166


  • Travelling: If you are travelling for long distances in a car, ensure adequate ventilation and always take a bowl and a few litres of water along. If you plan to stop for a leg stretch, ensure that you have a proper collar and lead to walk the dog. Never leave an animal in the car during warm weather, even with the window open. On warm sunny days cars heat up quickly and become like ovens. If you come across an animal left in a locked car please immediately try to alert the owner or for example, alert shopping centre management, security personnel or report it, quoting the car registration, to the local police or the SPCA on 021 700 4158/9 or after hours telephone number 083 326 1604.


  • Giving a pet as a gift: Our pets bring us untold joy and provide wonderful companionship but they are a huge responsibility. The gift of an animal means a long-term commitment of time, money and energy that may exceed the recipient’s abilities. Additionally, some pets suffer loneliness and neglect when their novelty has worn off and many of them end up The SPCA less than half way through the New Year.


The Cape of Good Hope SPCA operates throughout the festive season. It is the time of year when resources are stretched. Staff continue to undertake routine duties of response to information involving alleged cruelty, neglect or abuse of animals: – matters which escalate at this time. There is also the ongoing monitoring of animals in “captive facilities” and an additional response to emergencies.


Please carry our number 0217004158/9 with you on your cell phone so that you can reach us easily during office hours and our number 083 3261604 for after-hours contact purposes. Above all, please report concerns regarding abused, neglected or cruelly treated animals by phone. E-mails and Facebook cannot be monitored around the clock and time lost in terms of response means that an animal has suffered. The identity of an informant is always kept confidential.