Pets, especially dogs, love the festive atmosphere around the home at Christmas but there are certain things you should keep an eye out for to ensure your pet remains safe over the Christmas and New Year period.
Most houses have plenty of chocolate at this time of year and it is vital that it is kept away from dogs as it is very poisonous. Other food worries for your dog include onions (used in stuffing preparation), grapes (maybe served with a cheese board) and raisins (found in Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or maybe mince pies).
Just one or two grapes or raisins can be highly dangerous to a dog so please keep an eye out for your pet sniffing out food as it’s being prepared or even afterwards on any plates or in bins.
Also make sure you don’t include any turkey bones in any Christmas dinner leftovers fed to your dog as they can cause choking or may damage your dog’s intestines. String used for cooking meat joints can also be a hazard – it may smell nice to your dog but may cause intestinal blockages.
Even wrapped food presents pose a danger as unfortunately, your dog will be able to smell their way past any wrapping. To prevent any unfortunate diarrhoea in your living room on Christmas Day, please make sure all boxes of chocolates, selection boxes, biscuits and sweets are placed safely away from prying paws.
Christmas Trees, Holly & Mistletoe
Christmas tree pine needles may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset resulting in your dog vomiting or suffering from diarrhoea or can cause oral irritation, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
Pine needles can also get stuck in pet paws and cause irritation if they become embedded. Pine needles can also cause perforation of the intestines if eaten. A non-shedding Christmas Tree will reduce the dangers and keep plenty of water in the Christmas Tree base to help reduce the number of fallen needles. A daily hoover or sweep of the carpet or floor around the base of the tree is also worthwhile.
Holly, commonly found during the Christmas season, can cause intense vomiting, diarrhoea and depression.
Mistletoe, another Christmas plant, can cause significant vomiting and diarrhoea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death when ingested.
Poinsettia, contrary to popular belief, is not deadly; however, it can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting if a large quantity has been consumed.
Ideally keep festive foliage hung at a height out of harm’s way.
A decent rule of thumb regarding Christmas decorations – if you wouldn’t let a small child play with it, don’t let your pet!
Tinsel, while not toxic, is very attractive to pets, especially cats. Tinsel reflects light and also shimmers and moves – everything a playful cat will be drawn to.
However, if the tinsel is consumed, it can cause serious intestinal injury to your pet and if it twists and bunches up, it can even prove fatal. Immediate veterinary care is required if tinsel is consumed.
Christmas baubles are also shiny and eye-catching. Dogs or cats may chew and swallow these fragile objects which can crack and shatter into shards of sharp plastic or glass. The sharp edges can lacerate your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines while also creating a choking hazard.
Dogs have been known to chew through electrical cables too so if you don’t want your patiently assembled Christmas Tree lights to go out and your dog to get a nasty shock, keep them tidied away as much as possible.
There are often a lot of new electronic toys and devices around the home at Christmas time and so the risk of battery ingestion is much higher around this period. A pierced battery can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning to a dog and even if the battery is not pierced when chewed, a whole battery may cause a serious intestinal obstruction.
Always Contact your Vet
The advice above is only meant to be a helpful guide and should never be used as a substitute for a proper consultation with your vet. If you are worried about your pet’s health over the Christmas period for any reason, please contact us at 091 38 00 00 (24 hour).