Christmas and New Years festivities are fun for all the family but can have some hidden dangers for our furry friends. There are some simple steps we can all take to avoid complications and avoid many of the emergency visits to your vet over Christmas.
Festive treats such as fruit cake and mince pies contain raisins which can be toxic and result in kidney injury, as well as high fat levels which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is poisonous to both dogs and cats and can result in signs from excitation to vomiting and seizures. Some festive house plants such as lilies and poinsettias are especially dangerous and should be kept out of reach at all times. Also some nuts such as macadamia can be poisonous and can end up in emergency vet visits and hospital care, even fatalities.
Decorations such as tinsel, mistletoe and fairy lights can also fall foul to curious pets with chewed wires often resulting in electric shocks, mouth injuries, poisoning and bowel obstructions. Even wrapping paper can result in vet visits and even surgery!
Although many dogs tolerate small amounts of human food, some can be very sensitive to even the slightest treat. High fat snacks can often cause stomach irritations or even trigger painful pancreatitis and severe vomiting, especially in pets with a previous history. Although they may seem healthy to us, sugar free products containing xylitol are extremely toxic to pets and can cause severe even fatal blood sugar problems.
Preparation is key to success and planning ahead to keep food, scraps and bones safe can avoid accidents. Turkey (and other cooked bones) are very difficult to digest and frequently result in bowel impactions requiring veterinary treatment or surgery to resolve. Mouldy scraps and food waste can cause seizures, especially in dogs and can result in extended hospital care. Be sure to keep all discarded or dangerous food securely to prevent scavenging. If your pet is prone to bowel upsets ensure you have probiotics to hand to help reduce the impact of any over indulgences!
Late nights, visitors, unsettled routines and festive fireworks can cause anxiety in some pets, especially cats and puppies. It can help to create a safe space in a quiet room with a familiar bed and/or crate to escape to, for some pets planning a short break in a cattery or kennel during large parties can help avoid particularly stressful incidents. Natural calming supplements and pheromone products can work wonders, especially if started a couple of days before any expected changes.
Many pets are on regular medications or specialist foods, so try to stock up before hand and check when your vets office will be open for over the counter or repeat prescriptions. Much as we love to see you and your pets during the year – we hope you have a healthy and safe Christmas! If however you think your pet may be showing any concerning symptoms, such as persistent vomiting or diarrhoea, excessive panting/coughing or any signs of pain don’t hesitate to ring the emergency number as supplied by your regular vet clinic.