Christmas is a wonderful time of year; full of decorations, Christmas lights and good food but this time of year can also be hazardous for our canine companions. Cases of poisoning and foreign bodies always increase over the festive period. So here are a few guidelines for keeping pets safe this Christmas!
Onions/ garlic/ shallots/ leeks:
Cause vomiting and diarrhoea initially, leading to damage to red blood cells and anaemia several days after ingestion.
Contains Theobromine. Dogs metabolize Theobromine much slower than humans, hence why it is toxic to dogs. Low levels cause agitation and gastrointestinal irritation. Higher levels can cause tremors, convulsions and cardiac problems. The darker the chocolate the greater the volume of Theobromine with cooking chocolate containing the greatest quantities.
Raisins/ sultanas/ currents / grapes:
Even small amounts of these can cause severe kidney failure.
Walnuts can cause seizures. Macadamia nuts contain very high fat levels and can cause gastrointestinal irritation and even pancreatitis. They can also cause tremors, pyrexia, stiffness and lameness.
Artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, some sweets, toothpaste, mouthwash etc. It causes a massive insulin release which leads to hypoglycaemia, seizures, hepatic necrosis and death. Very little needs to be ingested to cause problems. IMMEDIATE emergency care is required.
Can cause pancreatitis.
Bones can cause oesophageal tears and impactions. Cooked bones are more likely to splinter and fracture and so pose a greater risk.
Poinsettia, ivy, holly and mistletoe can all cause gastrointestinal irritation and may also cause local irritation. Mistletoe berries can cause more serious problems if eaten in larger volumes, but dogs will rarely eat enough to cause anything more than a tummy upset. Pine needles from Christmas trees can cause gastrointestinal irritation and can penetrate soft tissue. Where possible keep plants/ plant decorations out of the reach of dogs.
Causes lack of coordination and drowsiness if consumed. Avoid leaving drinks within reach of dogs.
Non- edible Christmas objects can also cause problems if ingested. Baubles can look like balls to dogs and if swallowed can become foreign bodies, if chewed they can cause damage to the tissue of the mouth and throat. Candles can smell attractive to dogs and can also cause problems if ingested. Lights can attract attention and if chewed can lead to electric shocks. Tinsel if ingested can become linear foreign bodies. Other less common hazards are snow globes – which can contain ethylene glycol. And liquid potpourri which can cause chemical burns – both should be located out of reach of pets.
It is obviously impossible to prevent access to everything mentioned, but simple measures could prevent the worst happening. Such as, don’t leave presents containing chocolate under the Christmas tree, avoid leaving alcoholic drinks on the floor, don’t feed leftovers to the dog and, if you do, consider what food is in the leftovers. Keep aforementioned plants out of reach and make sure Christmas decorations, like baubles, are securely placed on the tree and out of reach.
If you think your dog may have eaten any of the above, it is always wise to seek immediate attention from your vet. The veterinary poisons information services are at hand to provide emergency advice and information around the clock. (Please note this advice is only given to the vet and there is a charge for this service)
We hope this information may help to reduce the number of animals requiring veterinary attention over the festive period and that everyone reading this has an enjoyable and uneventful Christmas and New Year. If, unfortunately, you find you do need a vet over the Christmas period when the surgery is closed, please give our duty vets a call on our usual number, 01566 772211. We always use our own vets and nurses out of hours and they will be happy to give you the necessary advice or to provide medical treatment for your pet if required. (please be aware extra charges do apply for out of hours treatment)
We hope you all have a very safe and enjoyable Christmas!