‘Tis the Season…..Christmas Hazards for Pets


There’s a lot going on in our homes at this time of year, but with all the festivities comes a number of potential hazards for our pets….

We all tend to over-indulge at this time of year, but remember, giving pets extra treats can cause stomach upsets, with many “human” foods also being toxic to dogs and cats. Potential harmful foods include: chocolate; onions; nuts; fruit cakes (grapes and raisins); Christmas puddings and mince pies.

Turkey bones can cause choking, constipation, as well as damaging your pet’s intestines. Fatty foods can induce a painful pancreatitis, so avoid giving fatty meat trimmings to pets. Alcohol is also very dangerous, and may cause vomiting, disorientation, diarrhoea, lethargy, incoordination, breathing difficulties, seizures and coma.

Many cats love to eat plants, but sadly many are toxic to them. Many people are now aware that lillies are toxic to cats, but mistakenly believe that only the pollen is harmful, when in fact the entire plant is. Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias can cause skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea and heart arrhythmias in both cats and dogs.

Christmas decorations can cause significant problems if eaten. Baubles can splinter or smash causing irritation, perforation or intestinal blockages, with tinsel, ribbons and other sparkly items being quite attractive to inquisitive cats! Electric cables also pose an electrocution hazard if chewed.

Christmas trees can cause mild vomiting and diarrhoea if chewed, whilst pine needles are good at getting stuck in paws causing irritation. Vacuum regularly to pick up pine needles and keep the water topped up in the tree bucket to help reduce the number of fallen needles.

Many people like to place wrapped presents under the tree, but remember that dogs are especially good at sniffing out anything potentially edible, and may eat whatever gets in between such as bows and gift-wrap! Make sure any tempting presents are placed out of reach of your pets so they can’t help themselves.

There always seems to be an abundance of batteries around at this time of year, especially where there are children’s toys, and as such we tend to see more animals that have swallowed batteries during the festive period. If the battery is chewed and pierced, it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning, whilst batteries that are swallowed whole pose an obstruction hazard.

We have mentioned in the past, the hazards associated with antifreeze – don’t forget, ethylene glycol (the active chemical in antifreeze) is extremely toxic, even after ingestion of just a tiny amount, causing an acute kidney failure. It is sweet tasting and so attractive to pets, but may also be licked off the feet during grooming. Please ensure that all antifreeze products (including de-icer and screen-wash) are kept in sturdy containers, and that all spillages are cleared away immediately.

Finally, please remember, pets are for life, not just for Christmas! Giving pets as Christmas gifts is never advisable, and pets should only be bought after serious and thoughtful consideration to their lifetime care and needs. If you are serious about taking on an animal, please ensure you research your chosen pet to ensure they are the right animal for you, and that you can provide for their needs throughout their lifetime, both financially and emotionally. There are also thousands of animals in rescue shelters, desperate for a second chance at finding a loving home so please consider adoption when taking on a new pet.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our lovely clients and pets a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

If you need us over the festive period, please call 01325 380111.