With the festive season approaching, most homes are full of extra food and drink and there are more cases of potentially fatal poisoning or stomach upsets than at any other time of year, with cats and dogs rushed to the vets after eating foods that are toxic or dangerous to pets.
Eastfield Vets has even seen cases of drunken dogs that have stolen their owner’s booze.
Dr Wendy Adams, Eastfield Vets clinical director, said: “Common emergencies include dogs and cats becoming ill after eating mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding as raisins, sultanas and currants are poisonous to pets.
“A lot of dogs come in at this time of year after eating chocolate, which contains a substance called theobromine that is toxic to dogs.
“Poinsettias, pine needles, holly and mistletoe are all toxic if eaten.”
“Pets can suffer internal damage or choking on turkey bones, while there is also the risk of damage to the pancreas or gastroenteritis if pets gorge themselves on fatty food.
“There is often more food in homes at this time of year and chocolate wrapped up under the tree so pets are more at risk as they sniff out the treats.
“The safest thing is to keep food and treats locked well away from pets. If anyone is worried about anything their pet has eaten, they should contact their vet immediately.”
Dogs getting tipsy after stealing their owner’s drink is another common occurrence at this time of year for vets.
Dr Adams added: “Many owners don’t realise alcohol has the same effect on pets as it does humans. Cats and dogs find the sweet yumminess of Baileys extremely tempting.
“I have had more than one drunken dog brought into the surgery in the past, suffering the effects of alcohol and they can also suffer from hangovers.”
Eastfield Vets have provided tips to keep your pet safe over the 12 days of Christmas:
• Alcohol - Keep alcoholic drinks and food containing alcohol out of your dog’s reach. It has similar side effects to humans and can cause serious liver damage.
• Aspirin and Ibuprofen - If you’ve stocked-up on painkillers for your Boxing Day hangover, keep them out of your dog’s way as they can be fatal if swallowed.
• Antifreeze – If there’s snow and ice over Christmas, make sure your cat doesn’t have access to Antifreeze and mop up any spills. It is highly toxic and most often fatal – but cats like the sweet taste.
• Batteries - Although we use batteries year-round, at Christmas they can be easily left on the floor by children or in toys that an unsupervised dog may play with or chew. They can cause serious damage so care should be taken so they’re out of your dog’s reach.
• Chocolate - A chemical in chocolate known as theobromine can cause serious harm to your pet. The darker and higher the percentage of cocoa, the more theobromine is in the chocolate.
• Christmas cake and Christmas pudding – Raisins, sultanas and currants can cause kidney failure and can be fatal.
• Cooked bones - Turkey, chicken, lamb, beef and pork bones that are cooked can easily splinter and perforate your dog’s stomach. They are dangerous and should never be fed to a dog.
• Fireworks – If your pet is frightened of New Year’s Eve fireworks, speak to your vet in advance for advice. Keep them safely indoors, close curtains and turn on the TV to block out the noise.
• Holly berries - Causes upset stomach, tremors, seizures, loss of balance - be sure to keep them away from your pets.
• Mistletoe - Causes stomach problems, and may cause skin irritations.
• Poinsettia - Popular Christmas plants can cause diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps. Their sap can cause irritation, or even blindness, if it gets into your dog’s eyes.
• Sugar free sweets and mints - A chemical known as xylitol, used to sweeten mints and sweets that are sugar-free can cause serious damage to your pet.