We all know it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s certainly the season to be jolly. However, as pet owners, Christmas is also when we need to be alert and protect our four-legged loved ones against the unexpected dangers of the festive season.
According to our friends at Vets Now, the UK’s leading emergency vets, our homes harbour a multitude of hazards for our pets at Christmas time.
Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now who looks after the Video Vets Now team, explains:
“As a nation of pet lovers we all want to make sure our cherished companions join in with family Christmas celebrations, but at such a busy time of year for families, it’s easy to overlook the many hazards which can put them at risk of injury or illness.”
Vets Now anticipates a 97% rise in cases1 around Christmas and New Year with admissions from everything from accidental ingestion of raisins, chocolate, and tinsel to fairy light and candle burns. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone, Vets Now saw an 880% rise in emergency admissions from mince pie-eating dogs, compared with the rest of December.
“We see more cases of raisin toxicity on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than we do in an average month and that’s why we want to raise awareness of the threat they can pose to dogs” adds Dave.
To prevent treats turning into treatment, Vets Now are helping to pet proof Christmas with their guide around the top festive watch outs, from food & drink to decorations and presents.
Don’t let festive treats turn to a trip to the hospital! Dozens of human foods are dangerous for dogs, with the most common being chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins – so beware of mince pies, Christmas cake, Panettone and especially anything containing chocolate.
Vets Now has developed a chocolate calculator on its website to help pet owners determine necessity to see a vet: www.vets-now.com/christmas.
Other things that could see you spending your Christmas in the pet emergency room include xylitol (a common sugar substitute), alcohol, caffeine, onions, garlic, blue cheese and anything high in salt or fat – so be careful with things like Christmas stuffing and gravy and artificially sweetened treats.
If your pet has eaten anything potentially harmful, like chocolate, grapes or raisins, you should call your vet for advice. Don’t wait until the next day for advice either. If it’s out of hours, it’s advised you contact an emergency vet as soon as possible, even if it’s lunchtime on Christmas Day or midnight on New Year’s Eve!
Unsure what food your dog can and can’t eat this Christmas? Take a sniff around our full list of Christmas food do’s and don’ts for dogs.
Pets and Christmas trees aren’t a great mix! Pine needles can cause mild stomach upset, cuts to the paws and mouth and, in severe cases, even perforation of the intestines. For cats and puppies, trees can also be a huge temptation as a plaything.
To minimise any potential pet emergencies, vacuum daily, keep trees watered, use a strong base to hold it up, avoid shiny ornaments and attach those you do hang firmly on. Or, buy an artificial tree. It’s worth considering keeping cats out of rooms with Christmas trees.
There’s an abundance of other non-food Christmas pet hazards lurking in our festive homes. These include:
- Tinsel and lametta – dogs eat tinsel like we eat spaghetti and cats find lametta fascinating and may eat it causing dangerous blockages in their intestines.
- Salt Dough Ornaments – the mix of flour and salt with water can cause a potentially fatal salt toxicosis if ingested by your pet.
- Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy – these are all mildly toxic to both cats and dogs.
- Lilies – those from the Lilium or Hemerocallis species — are very dangerous for cats. Eating any quantity of any part of the plant, or even drinking water from a vase containing them can be potentially fatal.
- Snow Globes – imported versions can contain antifreeze, as little as one tablespoon can be fatal for a cat.
- Candles – they can burn paws and the curious noses of our furry friends, and fall over when brushed against.
- Fairy Lights – cats are curious and will try to chew on anything, including fairy lights that can burn them and wires which can electrocute them.
Wrapping paper, toys and batteries found in many gadgets are also hazardous to our pets.
While toxicity of wrapping paper is low, eating a large amount of paper could cause an obstruction in the stomach. Keep your pet safe and don’t leave wrapped gifts lying around and dispose of old paper in an outside bin.
Children’s toys and new gadgets can be very appealing to pets. Avoid these types of gifts becoming potentially hazardous chew toys by monitoring the opening of gifts and keeping new toys and gadgets of out of reach. Batteries within gadgets or children’s toys can cause serious internal burns if swallowed by pets.
Vets are on hand to help this Christmas!
If you are worried about your pet over the festive period, and it’s not a pet emergency, you can get peace of mind within a few minutes with Video Vets Now. This video consult service by Vets Now means you can arrange a video call with one of their emergency vets within minutes, no matter where you are in the UK.
A ten-minute video consult costs £24 and is refundable if Vets Now recommend an in-person follow up within 48 hours. For more details and how to book visit: Online Vets | Video Chat With Our UK Based Vets | 8am-11pm Daily (vets-now.com)
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