Vets' warning over Christmas pet hazards

Pet owners have been warned to be extra vigilant over the Christmas period when the risk of danger to animals increases due to festive decorations, gift wrapping and seasonal plants.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 7:31 am
Chocolate poisoning remains the most common cause of toxic ingestion at Christmas for dogs in NI, with 70% of vets seeing at least one case
Chocolate poisoning remains the most common cause of toxic ingestion at Christmas for dogs in NI, with 70% of vets seeing at least one case

Seven in ten vets in Northern Ireland report seeing at least one case of chocolate poisoning in dogs each Christmas, according to a survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Many cats also sufferer poisoning each Christmas with 40% of local vets reporting having treated cats for the effects of consuming antifreeze poisoning.

As well as decorations and gift wrap, house plants like lilies and poinsettias were other common reasons for pets landing up at the vets.

BVA Northern Ireland senior vice president Seamus O’Kane said: “Christmas is typically a fun and chaotic time for families, but the presents, treats and decorations can often prove dangerous for our pets if we are not careful.

“Many pet owners are aware of the risks of chocolate or other festive foods being toxic for their pets but, as our survey shows, 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 present-givers to tell owners if there is anything edible in gifts and to keep such presents safely out of reach of your pet.

“If you suspect your pet may have eaten something it shouldn’t, please contact your local vet immediately.”

The BVA is urging animal lovers to ensure their home is safe for their four-legged friends by following these simple tips:

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

Substances which can be poisonous to pets include:

• Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)

• Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake recipes)

• Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)

• Xylitol-sweetened foods

• Onions, avocados and grapes

• Alcohol

• Plants including lilies (and daffodils)

• Cleaning and DIY products such as white spirit and lubricating oils

• Car anti-freeze

• Human medicines

• Substances with low toxicity that could cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea include:

• Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)

• Charcoal and coal

• Cut-flower and houseplant food