Vets across the UK are warning pet owners of the potential dangers at Christmas, when they experience the most emergency visits due to poisoning.
From toxic plants and poisonous foods to accidents with decorations, there are many risks to pets during the festive season.
With 62% of Brits having a pet, the threat across the country is huge.
To help pet owners avoid catastrophe, TrustedHousesitters has worked with vets and animal experts to reveal the biggest dangers pets can face at Christmas, as well as what people can do to avoid them:
1. Christmas tree – protect it with foil and citrus peel
One of the main dangers at Christmas is the tree – dogs, cats and other small animals can be tempted to climb the tree or jump up to play with hanging decorations.
Vet Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, advises: “Placing foil or citrus peels around the trunk and base of the Christmas tree can keep cats away, or you may consider placing an ex-pen fence around it to keep pets away from the presents as well.”
2. Mistletoe isn’t always for kissing
Some seasonal plants can be extremely dangerous, so always supervise pets around them or, better yet, avoid them altogether.
Dr. Megan Conrad, BVMS, a licensed vet, comments: “Many holiday plants can cause health problems for your pet, ranging from GI upset to heart issues and kidney failure."
"Definitely avoid mistletoe and holly, along with lilies, pine boughs and wreaths. The pine needles on a live Christmas tree can also be harmful if ingested.”
3. Tinsel can be deadly
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While it may look pretty, tinsel can be fatal if you have pets.
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Vet, Monika Šragová said: “I would strongly advise against tinsel, especially if you have a cat as it can be deadly. Tinsel, ribbons, yarn… anything that’s “stringy” can result in a condition we call a linear foreign body.
“This happens when one end of the string wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, and the rest moves into the intestines.”
“Since it’s anchored at one end, it cannot be passed and will cause severe damage to your pet’s intestines. Linear foreign body is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate surgical intervention.”
4. Switch your real Christmas wreaths for a faux one
Poinsettias are a common plant used in Christmas wreaths but aren’t advised if you have a pet.
Kasey Turner, an animal behaviourist explains: “Poinsettias are harmful to dogs and cats, so it's best to keep them out of reach. If your pet consumes poinsettias, you might notice symptoms like drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea.”
“Also, if the milky sap of the plant comes in contact with your pet's skin or eyes, it could cause dermal irritation, including redness, swelling, and itching.”
If you think your pet has consumed something toxic, speak to a vet as soon as you can.
5. Watch out for Christmas dinner leftovers
Animals love food, and at Christmas, it’s in abundance!
However, this spells danger when it comes to pets eating something toxic.
Dr. Helena Adalid Marin, a veterinarian says: “Christmas is the time of the year when we receive the most poisoning cases. The main culprit is chocolate, which is very toxic to dogs. Seafood and sauces with onion and garlic should also be avoided, not to mention letting them taste champagne…
“Avoid giving pets any food from the table and keep the bin tightly closed because they’ll end up sniffing out leftover food.”
Despite dogs being known for their love of bones, poultry bones are also a definite no-no.
Veterinary surgeon, Dr. Linda Simon explains: “While it may be tempting to toss the turkey carcase to our dog, bones should not be given. They can cause tooth fractures, gut obstructions or severe constipation. Instead, stick with some lean meat.”
Angela Laws, community manager of TrustedHousesitters, who is says: “Christmas is a time for the whole family to get together and celebrate, but if you have pets, you should take extra care to ensure they’re happy, healthy and safe.”
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“Always keep a close eye on your pets and monitor everything they’re eating around Christmas Time, as leftovers can be dangerous.”
“If your pet is anxious or struggling with the hustle and bustle of the season, ensure you keep to their usual routine, exercise them regularly, and have a safe space at home where they can retreat if the festivities become too much for them.”
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