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  • Jess Ellis

The 12 toxins of Christmas

We love Christmas, and dont want to be a scrooge in anyway but its always worth remembering the dangers.....

As the Christmas season is now upon us, its time to be merry spend time with loved ones, family and friends. As we stock up and prepare all the delicious foods which we look to enjoy during this period, just remember that though our four legged friends may appear, and indeed ask, or steal these too, Many of the decadent and tasty treats we enjoy are not so good for them.

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

1. Alcohol

Although alcohol is available all year round, it is often drunk in larger quantities at this time of year, if left accessible can lead to alcohol poisoning in our pets.

Dogs will drink most forms of alcohol, including beer and wine, but like our feline friends they seem to have a fondness for cream-based liquor. Take care with the Baileys!

2. Grapes and raisins

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

Raisins can be found in so many festive foods, mince pies, Christmas puddings and cake being the most obvious. 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 raisins but is also full of fats, which can give dogs severe stomach troubles. They are also often laced with alcohol and although in small quantities can add to their gastric upset.

4. Fatty foods

Although it’s tempting to share the feasts with your pets it’s best to avoid giving your pet scraps like turkey skin, sausages or pork crackling, as any rapid changes in your pet’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upsets, including vomiting and diarrhoea. Occasionally ingestion can cause more severe issues that may require hospitalisation.

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

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 makes these a gorgeous houseplant at Christmas, and many retailers now add glitter to their leaves for extra festive sparkle.

The stems and leaves contain a milky substance similar 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.

Consider moving plants to areas where your pet is less inclined to have a sneaky nibble.

7. The Holly and the Ivy

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.

The same advice goes for all your Christmas decorations. Twinkling tinsel, baubles and lights can look very enticing to both dogs and cats but they can get into serious trouble through trying to play with them; from ingesting or inhaling tinsel (watch your cats!) to tying themselves up in electric lights.

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 cat 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 poisonous for dogs.

The severity of poisoning depends on the type of chocolate ingested and the dog’s weight. 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, a mountain of 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 less serious but unpleasant side effect can be seen due to the laxative effect particularly in dogs which can result in unwanted presents on the kitchen floor – certainly not one that was on Santas list!

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, which so many of our pets find terrifying. There are multiple methods of trying to reduce this anxiety at home which may or may not work, sometimes despite our efforts calming medication is required. Please speak to us about this if you feel it may help.

12. Antifreeze

While not a festive food, I have added this on here as a number 12. Why? because antifreeze is extremely toxic to animals and can cause fatal kidney failure. Unfortunately, dogs and cats find the liquid quite tasty and will eagerly drink it up when given the chance. So please be careful during the cold season, keep any antifreeze safely locked away.

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, visit our contact page or call us on 02920001413

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