Keeping pets safe over Christmas
Posted on 17 December, 2018
Our pets are part of the family, which means they enjoy Christmas just as much as we do with lots of visitors giving them a fuss, extra delicious food and of course their own presents to unwrap under the Christmas tree.
But the festive season can also be a dangerous time for pets. Many different types of food for instance are poisonous to dogs and as households are usually very busy at this time of year it can be difficult to keep an eye on them all the time.
Vets Now[i], the UK’s out-of-hours pet emergency service, reported last year that it sees a 788 per cent increase in chocolate poisoning cases over Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone. Other research shows that while most dog owners (93 per cent) are aware chocolate is poisonous, 32 per cent of pets have still been at risk after eating some.
Recently it was also highlighted in the media about the harmful effects the sugar substitute xylitol[ii] can have on dogs after a Hungarian Vizla[iii] died from eating brownies made with it. This is relatively unknown amongst pet owners, but with more of us becoming health conscious and using sugar substitutes people need to be aware.
It’s better to be prepared and to think ahead about what might be dangerous to your pets and to plan accordingly, ensuring they won’t have easy access to these things. It’s important to also let your guests and children know about these things too.
If you are away this Christmas and using one of our homesitters, they will be fully aware of the common dangers to pets – however it’s worth leaving a note too as a reminder.
Here is our checklist of things that pets need to avoid this Christmas:
Chocolate – chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which, while tasty, is severely poisonous to cats and dogs[iv]. Most owners know chocolate is poisonous to pets and will keep it out of the way. But remember not to hang small chocolates on the Christmas tree – something that is often forgotten, as they are often just seen as ‘decoration’.
Xylitol – this common sugar substitute is found in sugar-free gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamins and a small handful of peanut butter brands[v]. It can also be used in cooking. Even small amounts can be poisonous to dogs and in 2016 there were more than 250 cases of xylitol poisoning in the UK.
Grapes – grapes along with raisins, currants and sultanas are poisonous to dogs so keep Christmas puddings, mince pies and the fresh varieties out of reach of your dog.
Christmas trees and tinsel – while pine needles are not poisonous as such, they can cause stomach upsets if eaten and internal damage as they are sharp. There is also the hazard of dogs and cats jumping at the tree and knocking it over, pulling off decorations like tinsel and eating it – which could get stuck in their gut.
Make sure your tree is in a safe place where it’s not easily knocked over and if your dog is the type to steal decorations it might be worth limiting what you put on and keeping them up high on the tree.
Silica gel – with lots of presents being unwrapped there is a good chance many such as shoes and electrical items will contain small sachets of silica. While it’s considered low toxicity it’s still wise to keep them away from pets and children.
Alcohol – keep alcohol out of reach and don’t leave your dog unattended where there are leftover drinks. It’s not good for pets and has similar effects on pets as it does on humans – but as pets are much smaller it can be even more harmful. There is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma[vi].
Christmas leftovers – be careful what you give your dog. Meat and vegetables should be fine, but don’t give them blue cheese or any food that might contain mould as it can cause convulsions in dogs[vii].
Keep these things in mind and your pets should stay safe and sound this festive season.