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Keeping your pet safe this festive season

By November 28, 2016 Uncategorized

There are lots of things around to tempt our pets at Christmas time.  Unfortunately some of the foods and decorations we like to have at this time of year can be harmful to our pets…make sure you keep your pet safe and avoid an unwelcome visit to the vets!


Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs.  Dark chocolate contains the most theobromine, and dogs do not need to eat much for it to be toxic.  Cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa shell mulches also contain high concentrations of theobromine.  Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhoea, a fast heart rate and in serious cases fitting.  If your dog has eaten chocolate it is important to phone us for advice straight away, informing us about the size of your dog and the type and amount of chocolate eaten.  Dogs will open Christmas presents or steal tree decorations if they smell a tasty treat!

Grapevine fruits

Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants can all be toxic to dogs.  Unfortunately Christmas cake and Christmas pudding can be very tempting to our canine friends!  Ingestion can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and more serious effects such as kidney failure.  Even a small amount can be toxic, so contact us for advice if your dog has eaten any of these fruits.

Christmas decorations

Pets can find Christmas decorations very amusing to play with.  Unfortunately this can cause problems if they eat any of the decoration, with parts getting stuck inside their tummies.  Glass baubles can also shatter and lead to cuts around the mouth.


The main house-plant to be aware of is lilies.  Ingestion of even a small quantity of lily pollen in cats can cause kidney failure.  It is vital to seek urgent veterinary treatment if your cat has ingested any part of a lily plant.

Mistletoe, Holly and decorative Ivy can cause tummy upsets if lots is eaten.  Eating Ivy can cause more serious symptoms in rabbits.  Poinsettia has a reputation for being toxic, but this is generally not the case; drooling and tummy upsets may occur if large quantities are eaten.  It is a good idea to keep these plants out of reach.

Christmas Lunch

Everyone likes to indulge at Christmas, and this includes spoiling their pets.  Unfortunately a sudden change in diet or a big meal of rich food can cause a nasty tummy upset.  In particular you should avoid feeding your pet:

  • Fatty foods or table scraps, such as turkey skin or pan drippings, gravy, bacon or sausages. Too much fat can cause a nasty problem called pancreatitis.
  • Bones from the turkey.  These small bones can perforate the food pipe (oesophagus), which can have serious consequences.
  • Onions.  Onion ingestion in dogs can cause anaemia (low red blood cell numbers).
  • Artificial sweetener (xylitol).  This can cause life threatening low blood sugar and liver problems in dogs.  Severe cases usually result from the ingestion of chewing gums, sweets and cakes baked with sugar substitute.
  • Nuts.  It is generally best to avoid giving nuts to your pet.  Macadamia nuts can cause particular problems in dogs.

If you need advice, phone us on 01803 606059.