A VETS in south Warwickshire is warning pet owners to be clued up on the dangers of Christmas as the festive countdown begins.
Shipston Veterinary Centre in Shipston is preparing for a flurry of emergency visits from cats and dogs suffering illness or injury after eating festive foods that are toxic or dangerous.
Many homes are full of extra food and drink in the run up to Christmas and there are more cases of potentially fatal poisoning than any other time of year.
Dogs choking or suffering internal damage from turkey bones, usually stolen from the bin or kitchen counter, is one of the common emergencies. Other festive risks include pets being poisoned by chocolate, mince pies, macadamia nuts, Christmas cake and pudding, while overfeeding fatty food could damage their pancreas or cause gastroenteritis.
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which is toxic to dogs, while the caffeine content in many chocolates can exacerbate the effects. Raisins, currants and sultanas in mince pies and Christmas cake are also poisonous. Other festive hazards include poinsettias, pine needles, holly berries and mistletoe, which can all cause illness if eaten.
Pets have also needed to visit the vets after eating or chewing decorations like tinsel, twinkling lights and toys on the tree.
Vet Dr Julie Lawrence, who is Shipston Veterinary Centre’s Clinical Director, said: “During December, we expect to see cases of pets that have eaten something they shouldn’t have and the number increases as we get closer to Christmas Day.
“We see a lot of examples of poisoning over the festive period. In some cases, owners are completely unaware of the hidden dangers and are simply intending to be kind to their pet. There have also been cases of dogs stealing the Christmas turkey or taking chocolate from under the tree, so it is important to keep food and treats out of reach of pets.”
While many people hope for a white Christmas, vets are urging pet owners and car owners alike to be vigilant with antifreeze, which is highly toxic and most often fatal if eaten. Cats often walk through the substance and then lick it off their paws, causing poisoning.
Taking a few simple steps to keep pets safe can prevent festive fun turning sour, but owners should also know what to do if accidents happen.
Julie added: “If your pet eats something they shouldn’t, contact your vet straight away and try to let them know what has been eaten, how much and when. The faster we can see a pet, the better, so we can induce vomiting if necessary and assess the level of toxicity.
“If your pet is a scavenger, it may be best to keep any leftovers in a cupboard out of reach. It is recommended that edible presents you place under the tree are pet-proofed as we see a lot of cases where pets have sniffed things out and eaten them.”