The 12 Dangers of Christmas for Pets
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The 12 Dangers of Christmas for Pets

The festive season is upon us! As we look towards the big day, we’re piling our supermarket trolleys high with decadent desserts, ingredients for a hearty roast and scrumptious minced pies. All of which are a delicious treat for us on Christmas Day, but not so suitable for our four-legged friends.

Keep your pet safe this Christmas by keeping the following festive treats well out of reach and by making your Christmas party pet friendly.


1. Alcohol

Although alcohol is available all year round, it is often drunk in larger quantities over the festive season and if left accessible can lead to alcohol poisoning in our pets.

Dogs will drink most forms of alcohol, including beer and wine, but they seem to have a fondness for a particular brand of Irish whiskey and cream-based liquor; almost 20% of canine ethanol cases with follow-up involve this type of alcoholic drink.

As expected, alcoholic drinks with cream in them are also often very appealing to cats, too!


2. Grapes and raisins

The consumption of grapes and raisins presents a protentional health threat to dogs and cats. Exactly why these foods are poisonous to our furry friends is unknown, but their toxicity can induce kidney failure.

Raisins can be found in many festive foods, so be sure to not leave Christmas pudding, mince pies and chocolate covered raisins accessible.

Keep grapes out of reach whether in the fruit bowl or on the cheese board. Many cheeses are also best kept away from out pets, blue cheese in particular.


3. Mince pies

This sweet pie filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices not only usually features the dreaded dried raisins but is also full of fats, which can give dogs severe stomach troubles.

They are also often laced with alcohol which is poisonous to pets too.


4. Christmas pudding and cake

A staple at any Christmas dinner! Although delicious for us with brandy after a turkey feast, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake should not be offered to your dog. Just like mince pies, these traditional desserts are jam-packed with raisins, currents and sultanas, which can be poisonous to them when ingested.


5. Onions and garlic

Garlic and onions are found in droves as ingredients in our favourite Christmas dishes, but they contain a substance that can damage red blood cells in dogs and cause life-threatening anaemia.

Signs may not appear for a few days but can include stomach problems, drowsiness, weakness and rapid breathing. It’s best to keep onions, garlic, leeks and chives away from your dogs and cats.


6. Poinsettia and other hazardous plants

The bright, colourful leaves of the poinsettia make them a popular potted plant at Christmas, and many retailers now add glitter to their leaves for extra festive sparkle.

Although pretty, the stems and leaves contain a milky substance akin to latex, which can be irritating when dogs come into contact with it. If your pets ingest this substance, it can be potentially toxic to them, with the most common symptoms seen including drooling, mouth sores, vomiting and diarrhoea.

As well as poinsettia, similar irritants can be found in amaryllis and even Christmas trees can cause these signs if preservatives and fertilisers are used and your pooch drinks the water found at the base of your tree.

Consider moving plants to areas where your pet is less inclined to have a nibble and place plastic covers over the base of your Christmas tree to reduce the risk of intoxication.


7. Holly and mistletoe

Certain types of yuletide plants commonly used for decoration, including mistletoe, ivy, rosemary and holly berries, can be toxic to our pets. They are all irritants to our furry friends and can potentially be toxic to them.

Keep your yuletide plants out of reach of your dogs and cats during the holidays.

The same advice goes for all your Christmas decorations. Twinkling tinsel, baubles and lights can look very enticing to both dogs and cats. However, they can get into serious trouble through trying to play with them; from ingesting or inhaling glitter to tying themselves up in tinsel or electric lights, and there is also the risk of broken glass and cut feet if they knock the baubles off the tree.

Another good piece of advice is to tie or secure the top of your tree to something if you can, this way it will be less likely to topple over if your pet decides to try and climb it.


8. Chocolate

Chocolate is available by the bucket load at Christmas, and although we’re very grateful, dog owners should be aware that chocolate is very poisonous for dogs.

The severity of poisoning depends on the type of chocolate ingested and the dog’s weigh. Dark chocolate is said to be the most serious, this is because all chocolate contains a poisonous chemical called theobromine, and generally speaking, the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains.

Initial signs of chocolate poison in may include vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity and tremors. It’s possible that heart problems may develop in more serious cases.

Although white chocolate contains very little theobromine, it actually contains more fat than other chocolate, so it can still make your dog really ill.


9. Nuts

After consuming nuts, dogs may suffer from a variety of symptoms, including weakness, overheating and vomiting. Supportive therapy may be required within 12 hours after ingesting nuts if the dog deteriorates.

However, if caught early, the prognosis for recovery tends to be very good.


10. Sweets

As well as chocolate, ample sweets are available during the festive season, and just like chocolate, they can pose problems to our pets if consumed. This is because some sweets contain artificial sweeteners, including xylitol, which can cause a rapid drop in blood glucose resulting in the animal collapsing.

As well as this, most sweets can also cause a laxative effect, particularly in dogs, and this is likely to result in presents on the kitchen floor that no one wished for this Christmas!


11. Festive parties

It’s the season of family gatherings, parties and celebrations and although this time of year is the cause of excitement in many animals, our shyer pets may become quite distressed and appear anxious by the loud noises.

If your pet is of a nervous disposition, be sure to create a safe space for them to rest, away from the hustle and bustle of the party. Likewise, Christmas and New Year is another opportunity for fireworks, here’s how to keep your pet calm and feeling safe during the fireworks display.


12. Fatty foods

At this time of year, there are numerous delicious treats in the house. Although it’s tempting to share the feast with your pets it’s best to avoid giving your pet scraps like turkey skin or pork crackling, as any rapid changes in your pet’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upsets, including vomiting and diarrhoea.

Speak to our team for advice on how best to treat a pet with an upset stomach, such as, when to withhold food, what the best bland foods to offer them are while they recover, over the counter products to help get them back to normal again and when to seek further medical advice or assistance


This list is not exhaustive. If you wish to enquire further about the potential danger of other foods and plants especially prevalent during the Christmas season, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially dangerous food or plant, or you have any other concerns about their health, then please call us for advice right away.

Tiptree Veterinary Centre – 01621 818282
London Road Veterinary Centre – 01206 544918

We wish you and all our four-legged friends a very happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.

Very best wishes,

From the whole veterinary team

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