Top Christmas pet casualties to paws for thought this festive season

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  • From fairy-light scorched paws to tinsel tummy aches these are the holiday hazards to keep your pets away from this Christmas

    The exciting festive preparations have begun including gift buying, tree decorating and grotto visiting – but how many of us stop to put our pet’s safety on the Christmas list?  With treats in abundance over Christmas, pet owners are being urged to be cautious.

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    Husky christmas dog

    Image credit: Simon Bevan

    Stats released by Vets Now, the UK’s leading out-of-hours pet emergency service, expect to see a 33% surge in calls in the run-up to Christmas as worried pet owners battle with the unexpected dangers of Christmas. Vets Now sees a 788% increase in chocolate poisoning cases alone over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.*

    Dave Leicester, Head of Clinical Intelligence, Vets Now said: “As a nation of pet lovers we all want to make sure our cherished companions join in with family Christmas celebrations, but at such a busy time of year for families, it’s easy to overlook the many hazards which can put them at risk of injury.”

    And, it’s not just the decorations that are dangerous, Vets Now is advising pet owners to be mindful of the increased risk of illness when treats are in abundance over the festive period. Dozens of human foods are dangerous for dogs, with some of the most common being chocolate, macadamia nuts, and grapes and raisins. Others include alcohol, caffeine, onions, garlic, and anything high in salt or fat.

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    Dave Leicester continues “We are encouraging pet owners not to let treats turn into treatment. There are well-known dangers – such as chocolate and raisins – that could put your pet at risk this Christmas, but many pet owners might not be aware of the more unexpected dangers that could see you spending your Christmas in the pet emergency room.”

    The top ten Christmas hazards for pets lurking in our festive fancies and freshly decorated homes include:

    • Chocolate – Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, a bit like caffeine, that’s severely poisonous to cats and dog
    • Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings – all grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are toxic to dogs; as are foods that contain them
    • Blue Cheese – it contains a substance called roquefortine C which dogs are extremely sensitive to
    • Tinsel – dogs eat tinsel like we eat spaghetti causing dangerous blockages in their stomachs
    • Macadamia nuts – often found in cookies, or food ingredients or just as a Christmas snack. These nuts cause severe illness in dogs.
    • Garlic, chives and onion – are found in many foods such as gravy, stuffing and sausages. All Allium species are poisonous to dogs
    • Snow Globes – imported versions can contain antifreeze, as little as one tablespoon can be fatal for a cat
    • Candles – they can burn paws and the curious noses of our furry friends, and fall over when brushed against
    • Fairy Lights – cats are curious and will try to chew on anything, including fairy lights that can burn them and wires which can electrocute them
    • Alcohol – this can cause severe liver and brain damage. As little as a tablespoon can lead to problems for your cat or dog
    Scottie dog by Christmas tree

    Image credit: Mark Bolton

    To inform and engage families Vets Now has details on how to deal with a Christmas emergency, ensuring the whole family can enjoy a safe and happy Christmas.

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    *Results based on Vets Now’s call database log.

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