Christmas hazards –
keep your pets safe this festive season
1st December 2018
Keep your pets safe during the Christmas commotion this year.
It's easy for pets to get carried away at Christmas time, with many owners including them in all the festive fun. Of course pets should enjoy Christmas too, they are an extension of the family after all. However we must remember that pets aren't small people, and they don't always see the dangers that we can. To help you have a relaxed, healthy and very merry Christmas with your pets, here's our guide to Christmas pet safety.
Christmas feasts can last all day and generally include an array of tasty delights. With all this extra food around, that is as tempting for pets as it is for people, consider what your cat or dog might get their greedy paws on without you noticing. Either because dishes are left out on worktops and buffet-style tables, or because scraps have been placed in the bin, there are many common Christmas ingredients that can cause havoc with a cat or dog's health.
Onion, garlic, leeks and chives are all toxic to cats and dogs. So even a well meaning gift of gravy on a pet's dinner can result in disaster. These toxins attack the red blood cells of our pets, causing anaemia. Lethargy, weakness, vomiting, pale mucous membranes (including the gums) and a racing heart and respiratory rate are the usual signs; however if your pet has eaten any of these things, don't wait for the signs to develop before seeking veterinary help, get in touch ASAP.
Then there are all those sweet treats, the enjoyment of which no pet should partake. The raisins in Christmas cake and mince pies are a major threat to dogs especially, but there have also been reports of problems in cats. Raisins, sultanas and grapes all affect the renal sufficiency of these pets and can cause acute kidney disease. Lethargy, vomiting and abnormalities in urination are all signs of this kind of poisoning. The sooner your pet sees a vet after ingestion of these materials, the better. Similarly, if your dog eats the sweetener Xylitol, make that all important call to us ASAP. Present in many commercially made puddings and sweets, even tiny amounts can cause lethargy, weakness, tremors and seizuring, among other signs. Again, although less common, Xylitol poisoning has been reported in cats also.
If there tends to be more alcohol flowing in your household at Christmas time, make sure it's kept out of reach of inquisitive pets. Alcohol poisoning in cats and dogs is characterised by drooling, incoordination, weakness and collapse. What sometimes follows a few glasses of wine? You've got it, medications to soothe a sore head. But pets and people-medication often don't mix. Ingestion of human drugs can have life-changing consequences and so, must be kept out of reach at all times.
It isn't just actual edibles that can cause a world of trouble for your pets, perceived edibles can too. Shiny baubles, small decorative ornaments and tantalizing tinsel can be too tempting to leave be, for the average pet. Broken baubles, both glass and plastic are extremely sharp and could cut the paws and mouth of any pet who mistakes them for an authorised play-thing. Small decorations and or those with small parts, can be a choking hazard. Young animals especially, or those with an inquisitive nature, are most likely to be at risk. Cats especially also love to play with string and ribbon which seems to be about in abundance at Christmas. If ingested, it can cause a blockage, and sometimes an unpleasant tightening of the intestines which requires surgical correction. So pet-specific toys only are best at Christmas, a great excuse to spoil your pet with new ones.
If a pet swallows something they shouldn't, never make them sick yourself. There are certain instances when this wouldn't be the best course of action and it's better that the professionals make that decision for you. Always phone ahead before making a journey to the vets, this way the team can best plan for your pet's arrival. Christmas should be fun for all, the last thing we want to be is the fun police. However, we suggest that supervision and mindfulness are the watchwords of the season. And of course, if your pet overdoes the festivities this year, we're always here to advise.