This festive season we all look forward to Christmas decorations, presents and delicious food, but are you aware of the dangers your pets are facing? We all enjoy celebrations and spending precious time with our families and friends, but we want to take this time to inform you of the many traditions which may harm your furry friends.
Chocolate is one of the most common causes of animal poisoning over the Christmas period. It contains a stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine, and will affect your pet’s heart. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content.
Grapes and raisins, found in mince pies and Christmas puddings, are toxic to dogs and cats. Although the cause is not clearly understood, if ingested they can cause severe kidney failure. Even the slightest amount can be toxic, so we recommend keeping them away from your pets.
Alcohol can have a similar effect on our pets as it does on their owners – when too much is consumed they may become drowsy and wobbly, and may lead to a lower body temperature and low blood sugar. In more severe cases, alcohol consumption could lead to a coma.
The prickly leaves of the Holly can damage the skin, mouth and digestive tract of your furry friends. The toxin theobromine (found in chocolate) is present in the berry and is also found throughout the plant.
Onions, garlic, shallots and chives all belong to the same species of plants and can be toxic when consumed. Garlic is almost 5x more poisonous than onions. Japanese breeds of dog and cats are most sensitive to these toxins, which can induce vomiting and diarrhoea.
Christmas trees are considered mildly toxic, as the chemicals they contain can cause problems in the mouths and stomachs of our pets. The tree needles are not easily digested, and could cause gastrointestinal irritation or perforate the stomach lining.
There are several types of mistletoe which can be poisonous to our furry friends, but the European variety is the most common at Christmas. If ingested they can cause gastrointestinal irritation and in severe cases, slowed heart rate and seizures.
The artificial sweetener xylitol is found in sweets, toothpaste and chewing gum, and can be toxic if consumed in the smallest amount. It induces the release of insulin in the body and can rapidly cause low blood sugar and can lead to liver failure.
When cooked, all bones become brittle and can easily splinter or break into large pieces, which can cause an obstruction in our pets. Smaller pieces can cause gastrointestinal irritation and may require surgery to remove.
The chemical ethylene glycol can be found in some antifreeze products and has a sweet taste, meaning it can be very tempting to our furry friends. However, it can be extremely harmful if ingested; it can cause vomiting and, diarrhoea and potentially kidney failure.
We are often left with lots of uneaten food over Christmas, which can quickly develop mould. Mouldy foods, such as bread and cheese, contain lots of toxins which can be harmful to our pets. Symptoms may include vomiting, appearing drunk and tremors.
Although the cause is unclear, macadamia nuts can be particularly harmful to our curious canines. They may appear weak (especially in their limbs), stiff, dull and sleepy. Some macadamia nuts are covered in chocolate so may be especially dangerous.
If you have any questions regarding toxins and poisons posing a threat to your furry friends this festive season, please do not hesitate to contact your local Medivet practice for more advice.