The Twelve Dangers of Christmas


Christmas comes but once a year… but for many pets, that’s once too often! There always seems to be a rush at most practices over the Christmas period, from people who’ve forgotten to pre-order medication, to pets who’ve injured themselves on something, to animals that have eaten something poisonous. So, we thought we’d put together a list of 12 of the “top troubles” pets seem to get themselves into over the festive period…

Twelve salted nuts…

Many dogs LOVE salt – however, while peanuts aren’t that toxic (resulting in a stomach upset at worst), the salt they’re coated in can result in potentially lethal salt poisoning. This causes cerebral dehydration, resulting in thirst, abnormal behaviour, wobbliness, seizures and even death. Even unsalted nuts aren’t always safe – Macadamia nuts in particular are quite poisonous to dogs, and should never be offered.

Eleven party guests…

Many pets find the change in routine and strange people visiting the house really stressful! Make sure they have a safe, quiet space to retreat to, and don’t force them to interact with visitors if they don’t want to. In particular, make sure young children who don’t know them aren’t encouraged to see them as playthings – that can easily lead to bites. Another useful tip is to use Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) pheromones to help them stay calm!

Ten well-cooked bones…

While most dogs (and cats) can cope with solid raw bones, cooked bones are very different. They shatter into pointed shards which can easily penetrate the mouth, throat or intestines, requiring emergency surgery (and even then, may cause a fatal peritonitis). Take great care with brittle poultry bones too – even raw they can occasionally cause similar damage to your pet’s insides.

Nine boozy drinks…

Pets and alcohol aren’t a good mix – they struggle to metabolise it as well as we do, and a “hungover” dog or cat is actually suffering serious and potentially dangerous alcohol poisoning. Cream liqueurs are a particular risk!

Eight Christmas trees…

You see a pretty tree… a dog sees a urinal (which may be painful if you’ve set up electric lights!) and a cat sees a climbing frame (which may result in them being catapulted across the room as the tree collapses). Pets should always be supervised around trees!

Seven scoops of stuffing…

Most stuffing contains onion, and often garlic as well. If eaten in significant quantities (as may be found on many Christmas dinner tables!) these can cause anaemia as they damage red blood cells.

Six children’s presents…

Cats love boxes, and there’s no harm in letting them play with them. However, they also tend to play with or even swallow ribbons, which can damage skin, claws, mouth and even act as a cheese-wire on the intestines.

With dogs, we’re more concerned about them eating the present – causing a blocked bowel and emergency surgery on Christmas afternoon!

Five chocolate treats…

It’s well known nowadays that chocolate (or at least the theobromine it contains) is toxic to dogs, causing restlessness, vomiting, heart problems and even seizures. It’s just as poisonous to cats, although they tend not to eat it as readily. White chocolate contains virtually no theobromine – but as it is essentially chocolate-flavoured lard, it can still trigger pancreatitis or at least a messy stomach upset.

Four Christmas puds…

The dried fruit in Christmas pudding and cake are potentially fatal, especially to dogs – some (not all) raisins and currants contain a toxic agent that can cause acute kidney failure. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing which ones do and which ones don’t, so the rule is – no vine-fruits for dogs!

Tree decorations…

[Sorry! Ed.]

Tinsel is as bad as ribbons for pets getting caught up in it, or swallowing it. However, watch out for candles and even electric lights as well – pets have given themselves nasty burns, and in a few cases, even caused wider fires by knocking over lit illuminations.

Two turkey breasts…

Now obviously turkey isn’t poisonous to pets! However, there are 2 possible risks. Firstly, uncooked poultry usually contains unpleasant bacteria like Campylobacteror even Salmonella. While a pet’s digestive tract usually copes with these better than ours does, they can still get food poisoning or, worse, spread the bacteria around the house to family and visitors.

Secondly, gorging on rich food unexpectedly is likely to bring on a stomach upset (possibly from both ends, as it were) which can definitely spoil Boxing Day! Dogs’ and cats’ stomachs don’t like sudden dramatic change, so while a tiny taste is likely to be OK, a huge pile of leftovers could be a disaster waiting to happen.

And one tablet left in the box…

Although all vets will have an emergency rota in place over the holiday, the same doesn’t apply to the drugs suppliers. So make sure you have all the meds your pet needs well in advance so you don’t suddenly run out when everyone’s closed!

Make sure your house is pet-safe, and keep your animals away from danger over the Christmas holiday… and we’d like to wish you, your animals and your families a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

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