Christmas time is usually a time for fun and festivities for us, but this may not be the case for our pets. There are many things that are dangerous to pets that are more common over the Christmas period.
Although this list is not exclusive it gives warnings about some of the common things that we see.
Holiday Hazards For Pets
1 – Chocolate
Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats due to a chemical called theobromine. The concentration of this varies depending on the type of chocolate, with cocoa products and dark chocolate being the worst. As little as 15g of dark chocolate in a 10kg dog can potentially cause problems (ranging from mild gastro intestinal signs, high heart rates, restlessness all the way to seizures). It may also be what else is in the chocolates that can cause problems too.
Keep chocolate treats on the tree out of reach of pets and also watch for presents under the tree that may contain chocolate.
2 – Raisins, Sultanas, Currants & Grapes
Please keep these out of reach of dogs, including things that contain these ingredients e.g. the Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding.
Even small amounts can cause your pets to become unwell causing kidney damage, which can lead to kidney failure and may be fatal. Early treatment is strongly recommended if your dog eats any of these.
3 – Nuts
Although it is very tempting to have a bowl of nuts out on the side over Christmas, these can be a hazard for your pets. Whole nuts in their shells can be a cause of chocking or intestinal blockages. Some nuts are difficult to digest so can cause tummy upsets and Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), vomiting and diarrhoea and seizures.
4 – Alcohol
Although we may enjoy a little tipple over the festive period please ensure they are kept out of reach of your pets so they don’t help themselves to a drink out of your glass.
Even a small amount of alcohol to pets can cause similar signs we get if we over indulge. These may include nausea and vomiting, loss or co-ordination and disorientation, vocalisation, low body temperature and blood glucose (sugar) levels, respiratory depression. This is not a nice feeling for us so imagine how your pets would feel.
5 – Mouldy Food
With extra food around please ensure all mouldy food is disposed of and out of reach of dogs as although not appealing to us may still seem tasty to them.
Mouldy food contains mycotoxins which are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of these can cause an array of serious effects such as vomiting, tremors, panting, fast breathing and heart rate, seizures. These signs can occur quickly please seek veterinary advice if you are concerned
6 – Christmas Dinner
It’s not only the turkey bones that can cause a problem, but these are likely to splinter if chewed and can result in damage to the intestines or if eaten whole can cause choking and constipation. It is also worth remembering that often our pets are not used to eating our food so giving them a Christmas dinner may result in all manner of problems, not only due to specific food items but generally just the richness of our food. They might enjoy it at the time but you might not like clearing up the resultant vomiting and diarrhoea or trip to the vets.
7 – Antifreeze
Please be careful when filling the car with these products and clear up any spillages to avoid animals ingesting this. Unfortunately, this is initially very sweet tasting and so very appealing to both dogs and cats but as little as one tablespoon in dogs and one teaspoon in cats can result in acute kidney failure.
Early signs can develop within 30minutes and include walking as if they are drunk, drooling, vomiting, weakness and seizures. This is a really serious problem and can prove fatal if early treatment is not started. PLEASE seek urgent and immediate veterinary advice. Blood tests are available if we suspect your pet has had access to antifreeze.
8 – Salt/Grit From Roads
We see more gritters on the road with the winter weather comes gritters, so think more about your pets’ feet. The de-icing products these contain can cause chemical burns on pads. If salt and grit is ingested when animals groom themselves in mild cases can cause vomiting and diarrhoea but in more severe cases can then lead to high blood pressure, heart rates and increased breathing along with neurological signs.
We would advise avoiding walking your dogs on freshly gritted roads and washing paws when dogs and cats have been out exploring. Dog boots may be a thought to protect their feet during winter weather.
9 – Christmas Plants
Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettia, Ivy and Yew are all typical Christmas plants we have around the house or are used in Christmas wreaths and decorations. Although these do not usually cause severe problems, they can cause an upset stomach so not what you need for your pets over Christmas. It’s recommended that you keep them out of reach.
10 – Christmas Trees & Decorations
Christmas trees and decorations are sparkly and appealing to pets but they do come with many pit falls. If cats try to climb or dogs jump at the tree this may cause the tree to fall and cause injury.
Needles dropping onto the floor may easily become stuck in paws or cause irritation or perforation of the intestine if eaten. Mild gastrointestinal signs can be seen if the sap is ingested so watch out for pets drinking the water.
Broken decorations can cause cuts on pads and many decorations can cause blockages in the intestines if eaten. Don’t forget the extra cables from lights that can be chewed.
11 – Visitors
Many of us will be expecting lots of extra visitors over Christmas to help us celebrate, but please remember that this might not be as enjoyable (and may even be stressful) for our pets.
Extra people means extra noise, changes in daily routines, furniture being rearranged which can be especially problematic for pets with poor sight who have got used to where things are.
Ensure that they have several safe and comfortable places to get away from the hustle and bustle, cardboard boxes/igloo beds are idea for cats make them feel like home by adding their usual bedding. Talk to guests and let them know where these safe places are and that if your pets are there, they should be left alone
12 – Fireworks
Fireworks may also be set off over Christmas and New Year so if your pets were frightened over bonfire night the same may happen again.
Provide them with a safe and secure den, take them for walks earlier in the evening before they start, keep them indoors when they are being set off and close curtains so they can’t see the flashes, having the television or radio on may help to muffle the sound.
13 – Snow / Ice
Not only is snow and ice slippery but it is important to check in-between your pet’s pads if they have been out. The formation of iceballs between pads is specifically a problem in really furry footed pets – these not only cause discomfort when walking but can cause sores.
If your pets enjoy playing in the snow wash and dry their feet when they come in and consider protective boots for them.
Another hazard is frozen ponds/rivers ensure when out on walks your dogs don’t walk over frozen water as you never know if it will withstand their weight.
14 – Cats & Cars
Cats like warm places . In the winter months cats will seek out warm places, which could include climbing into car engines or hiding under cars. Take a little time to check your car before starting your care to make sure that there are no hitch-hiking cats that could become injured when the engine is started. You should also check under cars before driving off. Simply opening the bonnet to check, slamming a door or tooting the horn may be all it takes to prevent serious injuries.
If your pet is unwell or has come into contact with any of the above or any other hazards over the Christmas period, seek veterinary assistance immediately. 24 hour emergency care is available at Pride Veterinary Centre.