Whilst Christmas can be an exciting time, it’s important to watch out for potential hazards for pets. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has revealed that many vets see cases of toxic ingestion in pets during the festive season.

Pet Poisoning

Across the UK, chocolate poisoning in dogs was the most common cause of toxic ingestion at Christmas, with 73% of vets seeing at least one case.

Several vets have said that, despite owners’ best intentions, their pets had been poisoned after gifts containing chocolate were placed under the Christmas tree with the owner unaware of the potential peril for their pet lurking beneath the wrapping.

Many cats also suffered toxic ingestion last Christmas, with a quarter of vets treating cats for antifreeze poisoning.

British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz, said: “Christmas is typically a fun and chaotic time, with presents and treats often arriving in our homes. Many pet owners are aware of the risks of chocolate poisoning to their pets but, it’s easy to be caught out by a kind gift left under the tree which curious animals can find hard to resist. Our advice is for givers to tell, and owners to ask, if there is anything edible in gifts. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t then don’t delay in contacting your local vet.”

Top Tips for Pet Safety

To keep Christmas merry for the whole household, ensure your home is safe for four-legged friends by following these five simple tips:

  1. Protect your pet from poisons – a number of festive treats and traditions, such as chocolate, raisins, xylitol (found in sugar free treats), nuts, grapes, liquorice, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are toxic to cats and dogs.
  2. Keep decorations out of reach – ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can all prove irresistible 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.
  3. Forget festive food for pets – we all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas, but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn’t be shared. They can trigger, sickness and diarrhoea or other conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis, so try to stick to your pet’s regular diet and routine. Bones including turkey bones should not be given to pets as they can splinter and puncture the digestive tract.
  4. Give toys not treats – we all want our pets to share the fun and many of us include a gift for our pet on the shopping list. But too many treats can lead to fat pets which can have serious consequences for their health, so consider opting for a new toy, or a long walk if you want to indulge your pet this Christmas.
  5. Know where to go – even with all the care in the world, animal accidents andemergencies 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.

For more information on pets and poisons download the free Animal Welfare Foundation pets and poisons leaflet.

Pets Corner

For great gift ideas for your pets this Christmas, head to Pets Corner in PE1. With their range of treats, festive fashion and toys, there’s no better place to visit!

Their skilled and knowledgeable staff can also offer advice on keeping your pets safe this Christmas.

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