The festive season brings excitement and commotion as we prepare for Christmas. But to vet hospitals, Christmas and celebrations can mean a spike in admittance for our favourite patients.
What we humans don’t realise is our beloved pets may be exposed to hazards less commonly found other times of the year. Here at Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we see an increase in festive season mishaps. Cats nibbling on Christmas decorations, dogs who over-indulge and eat too many treats, you name it, we see it.
Christmas dangers for your pets can be a real problem involving hospital stays, costly treatments, lengthy recovers and possibly even death.
Fox Valley Animal Hospital have put together the most common health concerns for your pet during the holidays.
Tinsel, ribbon and sparkly items
So the tree is up and looking festive. Not only is it decorated with tinsel, lights and glass ornaments, there’s an array of chocolate treats to feed the whole family beneath and decorating the branches.
Here’s what you need to know from a pet’s perspective
- Tinsel is not toxic but it looks very attractive to an inquisitive kitty. Tinsel that is eaten and swallowed can cause serious damage to the intestines. Tinsel bunches as it moves through the body. This causes twisting and possible laceration to the intestinal You might try placing decorations up high or going for a no tinsel tree this year.
- Glass ornaments can be eaten whole or in part. If your pet decides to eat these ornaments, it can cause lacerations to your pet’s mouth, throat and intestines. Hang them up high to avoid this problem.
- Chocolate treats hanging on the tree are too tempting for sniffy noses. If enough are eaten in one hit, it can cause serious problems. Chocolate is toxic to our pets and usually will need the vet to induce vomiting to remove as much as possible from the stomach and further treatment still.
Holiday lights and hidden dangers
There’s nothing nicer than seeing Christmas lights illuminate your home. Many hours are spent making sure every light is in place and ready to glow.
The electrical cords that help make your lights shine are a risky temptation to a toothy pet. Make sure lights or electric cords are out of reach of cheeky chewers. Each year, unhappy staff in vet hospitals right across Australia have to treat animals that have discovered the hard way why curiosity about the Christmas lights doesn’t pay.
Look into purchasing circuit breakers, taping cords or using specially designed cable protectors to help prevent an accident.
Over-indulgence and your pet’s digestion
The festive season is a time where many of us loosen our belts. And we love to share the Christmas celebration with our pets, too. This could mean buying them special gifts of the food-related kind or feeding them extra treats direct from our kitchen.
It’s really important not to over indulge our pets. A big change in their regular diet can lead to gastrointestinal upsets. Fatty foods such as ham can even lead to Pancreatitis (a painful inflammation of the pancreas). And some treats advertised as Christmas pet foods aren’t very healthy at all.
If you want to treat your pet with scraps from your cooking, it’s best to stick to learn meats and only give a small amount. Vet hospitals can guide you on a range of healthy treat alternatives for your family pet. Indeed, this is an area where our own vet Alex excels. You can find out more about healthy eating for pets in Dr Alex’s pet slimmer’s club.
Thinking of things outside the human pantry, if you’d like to treat your pets stick to things like Greenies and Whimzees which are low fat veggie chews.
I’m sure a big walk then smooch on the sofa would be just as welcomed. And would result in a lot less gas!
Trips to vet hospitals related to chocolate
Christmas is a time where we like to treat ourselves to some extra chocolate. Yet chocolate can be toxic and even fatal to dogs and cats. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the higher it’s toxicity level.
Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, changes in the pace of your pet’s heart, seizures and even death.
So please, keep all chocolate out of reach of pets, especially any presents under the tree!
Pets and Plants: things you should know
Some of our most common festive and Christmas plants can cause some pretty serious reactions in our pets.
- Poinsettias: can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach. They also cause vomiting on occasion
- Amaryllis: can cause drooling, vomiting, a drop in blood pressure and respiratory depression
- Mistletoe: isn’t for kissing when you’re a pet. It can cause significant vomiting and diarrhoea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behaviour, hallucinations and even death when ingested
- Holly: eating holly can cause irritation, toxicity and possibly death
If your pet has been exposed to any of these plants and is showing signs of illness or distress, please get them to a vet clinic for treatment.
Christmas puddings and mince pies problems
These Christmas yummies are jammed packed with raisins, sultanas and currants. And are often laced with large amounts of alcohol.
These little fruits are highly toxic for our pets. They can cause anything from vomiting to total kidney failure. Alcohol can also have a serious effect on your pe.
So save the pudding for pet parents only.
Ditch the cooked bones
The myth that bones are good for pets continues. Bones cause an array of problems. We see many pets with teeth fractures from eating bones. We’ve removed fragments of bones obstructing an airway. This sort of obstruction is life threatening and very scary for your pet.
And without fail, the first week after Christmas each year, we have bone related issues.
Please bin bones. They are not an essential or safe part of your pet’s diet.
Sweets as poison
Lollies are common stocking fillers. Nowadays people are becoming more aware of the risk of excess sugar in their diet. Sugar-free lollies are often a preferred alternative.
However, good vet hospitals shudder at the thought of sugar-free items near family pets. The reason is they contain XYLITOL, which is highly toxic in the smallest of doses when it comes to your pet. And when we say small doses, we mean small. Just 3 pieces of sugar free gum would be enough to kill a 5kg dog.
So please, make sure the sugar free treats are well out of the way of curious mouths.
If you’re considering a peanut kong as a doggy treat on Christmas day, please check the label of your chosen peanut spread. Some peanut butters contain Xylitol, which is never safe.
Fox Valley Animal Hospitals final word on staying safe with your pet this Christmas
If you think your pet may have been exposed to any of these risks please phone us for advice on 02 9489 4805.
Some Christmas dangers for your pet are much easier to treat with a better outcome if treatment is prompt.
And if this occurs during the Christmas break, see our referral vet clinic SASH.