12 Hazards that could ruin your Christmas

1. Mince pies. 

These Christmas fancies are bad for dogs for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re jam-packed full of currants, raisins and sultanas, which are toxic to dogs. Secondly, they’re often full of fat and suet which can give them severe stomach troubles, but also, more worryingly, lead to pancreatitis. Finally, they’re usually laced with alcohol which is also poisonous to dogs.

2. Antifreeze.

Usually used in radiators of cars an houses to stop the water from freezing in low temperatures. However it is highly toxic to cats and has a low survival rate once exposed. It is sweet tasting and so attracts cats to try it. Once ingested it is broken down in the liver which then leads to kidney and multi organ failure. Unfortunately it is very hard to diagnose and no cure, just supportive treatment. We have been unlucky enough to have had 2 cases of this in the last 2 months.

3. Medications

Ingestion of human medication is a common reason for pets being admitted to hospital. Unfortunately many over the counter medication is highly toxic to pets especially paracetamol. Be vigilant and keep all medications out of site.

4. Poinsettias

During the holidays, poinsettias are a popular Christmas plant. Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. The milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated. When ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in mild irritation. Signs are generally self-limiting and typically don’t require medical treatment unless severe and persistent. There is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning. That said, due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion, medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe.

5. Xylitol (artificial sweeteners) 

Xylitol is a common sugar substitute that can be toxic to dogs in even small amounts and it can be fatal. It’s regularly found in sugar-free chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin supplements and in a small handful of peanut butter brands. In 2016, there were more than 250 cases of xylitol poisoning in the UK reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service – and most of these were down to dogs getting their paws on chewing gum. At least one of these pets sadly died. There will have been many more cases of xylitol poisoning in the UK that went unreported.

6. Fatty Foods

Yes we all love to feed our dogs a nice bit of turkey or chicken at Christmas, were all guilty of this. However this must be done in small quantities as to much fatty food can cause pancreatitis in the body which, can be very nasty fo them.

7. Alcohol 

Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think! Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

8. Grapes

Unfortunately there is no known ‘toxic dose’ to pets. Unlike chocolate we can not work out if they have eaten enough to be toxic, but, as little as 1 can potentially be toxic. 

9. Tinsel and decorations

These items help make our trees beautiful and really help to ‘deck the halls’. However if eaten by pets they can be very nasty and become foreign bodies. If you haven’t yet seen read on facebook our story of ‘Pheonix’ one of our nurses cats who had a foreign body. These can be a simple blockage that needs removing however, they can also be much worse.

10/11. Garlic & Onions

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are in the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats if the dose is right. Garlic is considered to be about five times as toxic as onions for cats and dogs. While minute amounts of these foods in some pets, especially dogs, may be safe, large ingestion’s can be very toxic.

12. Chocolate.

This is perhaps the worst of them all as, we all love t eat it which means, its in almost everybody’s house. 
The amount of toxic theobromine varies with the type of chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate are highly concentrated and contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce, while common milk chocolate only contains about 44-58 mg/ounce. White chocolate barely poses any threat of chocolate poisoning with only 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate (that said, dogs can still get sick from all that fat and sugar, which can cause pancreatitis). 
 For many dogs, the most common clinical signs are vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and a racing heart rate. In severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure can be seen.

The most important thing to do if you suspect your pet may have ingested something they shouldn’t have is call your vet immediately. If they are caught earlier on they have a much greater survival rate (and lower cost vet bills).

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