It can be tempting to spoil a pet at Christmas – but ensure you do it safely.
It can be hard to remain strong when your adorable pooch makes puppy-dog eyes while you tuck into turkey and the trimmings.
But a lot of the festive deliciousness can prove dangerous for pets, as can hazards such as decorations and wrapping paper.
Thanks to the increased number of treats, a man’s best friend may be trying harder than ever to procure a treat.
But it’s important to be careful, as some Christmas food could end up killing them, the British Veterinary Association has warned.
This includes mince pies, which contain raisins, that are toxic to cats and dogs, and Christmas Puddings – which also contains booze, a no-no for pets.
Dried fruit, xylitol in sugar-free products, onion, garlic and seasonal decorations like mistletoe and holly can all be dangerous to dogs and cats if eaten
A BVA survey last year showed that 94 percent of vets had seen at least one case of chocolate poisoning in dogs that year.
And seasonal plants like lilies, mistletoe, poinsettias and holly were the top culprits for cats, followed closely by cases of antifreeze poisoning.
BVA President Justine Shotton said: “I’ve worked a lot in emergency practice and have seen many avoidable cases involving toxic festive hazards over the years, especially those involving dogs having chocolates and puddings or pies containing raisins.
“I once had an owner bring in a Labrador to be sick after it had eaten some mince pies, go home after treatment, only to be back at the practice immediately because their other dog had eaten the rest of the box in the meantime!
“It really doesn’t take very long for our inquisitive pets to sniff out chocolates left out under the tree or in advent calendars, gobble down a mince pie when your head is turned, or polish off puddings left unattended on the kitchen counter.
“This can have serious consequences for our pets’ health and can result in costly emergency care, including surgery if they’ve ingested objects like Christmas tree baubles or tinsel.
“My advice to owners is to keep all edible goodies and decoration items safely out of reach of inquisitive noses and to keep pets to their normal diets, avoiding feeding them any human food treats.
“If you are concerned that they have eaten something they shouldn’t, consult your vet straight away as this will dramatically improve prognosis.”
Top tips for keeping Christmas hazard-free for pets
- Protect your pet from poisons: A range of festive treats and traditions, such as chocolate in advent calendars and sweets, raisins, xylitol (found in sugar-free treats), some nuts, grapes, liquorice, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are toxic to cats and dogs.
- Keep decorations out of reach: Ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can seem like appealing playthings to cats and dogs but can be very dangerous if broken, chewed or swallowed. Batteries for Christmas gifts also need to be kept safe as, if ingested, they may cause severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach.
- Forget festive food for pets: We all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas, but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn’t be shared with the animals of the household. They can trigger sickness and diarrhoea or conditions such as gastroenteritis and pancreatitis, so try to stick to your pet’s regular diet and routine. Too many treats can also lead to pet obesity.
- Keep away the bones: Cooked bones, including turkey bones, should not be given to pets as they can splinter and puncture the digestive tract.
- Know where to go: Even with all the care in the world, animal accidents and emergencies can still happen. Make sure you’re prepared by checking your vet’s emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours or, if you are away from home, use the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Find a Vet facility. Owners may also call the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) helpline at 01202 509000 in the first instance (charges may apply).