10 potential hazards for pets at Christmas

While Christmas is the time for us humans to celebrate, indulge and have fun it can be a dangerous time for our pets.

With potential poisonous treats, dangerous seasonal plants and toxic drinks within easy reach, a third of pet owners will experience an emergency over the Christmas period.

To help you keep your pet safe, we have listed 10 potential hazards to be aware of this festive season:

1. Chocolate

Number one on the toxic list, chocolate contains the chemical theobromine which, even in small amounts, can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, heart problems and even death in your pet. The darker the chocolate the more toxic it is.

Try not to put any boxes of chocolates under the tree this year as your pet may not be able to resist.

2. Mince Pies, Christmas Pudding and Christmas cake

Grapes and dried vine fruits such as raisins, sultanas and currants are all toxic to dogs. Even a small amount could result in severe kidney failure so resist the temptation to feed your dog leftover mince pies, Christmas pudding or Christmas cake.

3. Onions, shallots, chives, garlic and leeks

Belonging to the allium family these can be toxic, either cooked or uncooked. There may be vomiting and diarrhoea and more seriously there may be resulting damage to red blood cells which may lead to anaemia in your pet.

So please do not be tempted to add a little leftover stuffing to your pet’s bowl.

4. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are especially toxic to the family pet and can often be found in festive biscuits at Christmas. Ingestion can cause lethargy, tremor, lameness and stiffness, especially in dogs.

5. Alcohol

Your pet may help itself to any alcohol left lying around over Christmas and if they do there is a risk of low blood sugar and coma. So do ensure it is kept out of the way.

6. Xylitol – the artificial sweetener

Xylitol can be found in many festive sweets as well as in chewing gum, toothpastes, mouthwashes and food supplements.

It can cause toxic effects in dogs and can lead to liver damage.

7. Christmas plants

Poinsettia, mistletoe, ivy and holly are all considered to be mildly toxic to both cats and dogs. Lilies, on the other hand, are extremely dangerous for cats and ingestion can be fatal.

8. Tinsel

Although fun to play with, tinsel has the potential to cause dangerous blockages in your pet’s stomach.

9. Silica Gel

Silica gel can often be found in packaging which we unwrap over Christmas. It is labelled ‘do not eat’ and is mildly toxic to your pet.

10. Potpourri

Eating potpourri can cause severe problems in your dog’s stomach, intestines and digestive tract which may last several days.

If you believe your pet has eaten anything potentially harmful you should contact your vet for advice. It’s a good idea to double-check your vet’s Christmas opening hours and have your local out of hours emergency vet number handy.

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Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

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