Dangers of Christmas

It may seem like a good idea to include your pet in the festivities, but unfortunately  you could be harming their health.

Giving your pets special food treats like some of the Christmas lunch, chocolate or even some of your Christmas pudding can all be extremely harmful.

A spot of turkey, a couple of roast potatoes, some stuffing and Christmas pudding or trifle can lead to an upset stomach and very fatty foods can even lead to pancreatitis which is a very painful inflammatory condition.

At Christmas there can be vast quantities of chocolate lying around and if your dog manages to eat some this can be lethal. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which can be poisonous in excess. Unfortunately, unlike humans, dogs are unable to process theobromine so even a small amount can lead to poisoning and if not caught early enough can be fatal!

A medium to large size dog would need only 2 bars of a good quality chocolate to cause a toxic level of theobromine high enough to lead to death if not treated quickly enough.

If your dog eats any chocolate whatsoever, then contact your vet as soon as possible for treatment.

Other items found around Christmas time that are not petfriendly and potentially toxic are:

  • Mistletoe
  • Holly
  • Ivy
  • Lillies
  • Batteries
  • Bones
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Human Medications
  • Antifreeze

If your pet comes into contact or ingests any of these items, please call the surgery immediately.

Antifreeze poisoning in pets

Many people are unaware of the dangers to pets from antifreeze poisoning. Many animals find antifreeze sweet tasting, and ingesting even the smallest amount can lead to kidney failure and death, especially in cats.

Accidental poisonings due to spills and leaks from containers, as well as leaking water coolant from cars, happen every year and result in the death of pets. Most of these deaths could be avoided by following a few safety steps:

  • Always keep antifreeze in clearly labelled, robust, sealed containers, away from pets and their environment.
  • Clean up any spills immediately, no matter how small, and make sure pets cannot access the area until it is clean and safe.
  • Always dispose of antifreeze and water coolant safely and responsibly.

There are times however, no matter how careful you are, when accidents can still happen. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, leaked water coolant or if they show any of the following signs get them to a vet immediately. Signs of antifreeze poisoning can start to show as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, though it can be two or three days before signs of kidney failure are seen.

The sooner your pet receives veterinary treatment, the better their chances of survival.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Seeming depressed or sleepy
  • Appearing drunk and uncoordinated
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

If your pet displays any of these signs call us immediately.

Rock salt poisoning in pets

During winter there is also a risk to your pets from rock salt. Rock salt is a mixture of salt (sodium chloride) and grit, and is used to help de-ice roads in winter. Rock salt can be a danger to dogs and cats if they lick it from their paws or fur. It is difficult to say how much needs to be eaten for signs of toxicity to be seen. Even a small amount of pure salt can be very dangerous to pets.

Most cases involve animals that have walked through gritted snow and then lick or chew it off their paws as they find it irritating. It’s therefore important to thoroughly wipe your pet’s feet and the fur on their legs and tummy after a walk or time outside. If they show any signs of discomfort after possible exposure to rock salt, use a mild, pet-safe shampoo and warm water to wash the affected areas, and dry your pet’s fur completely with a towel after washing.

Any animal suspected of ingestion of rock salt must be assessed by a vet immediately.

Protect your small furries from the cold

As the temperature drops don’t forget your pets that live outsideGuinea pigs and rabbits are susceptible to the cold. Here are a few tips to help them have a cosy winter:

  • Make sure they have plenty of bedding. Do not use blankets though as rabbits and guinea pigs have a habit of chewing them and this can cause an obstruction.
  • Remember water bottles may freeze so always have a spare and try putting an old sock over them to prevent freezing.
  • Do not put guinea pigs and rabbits out onto frosty grass as this can cause them digestive issues.
  • If possible try and bring them in at night. If this is not possible then provide a box inside their hutch full of straw and hay so they can burrow in and keep warm.
  • Try attaching bubble wrap to the front of the hutch with drawing pins. It will act as double glazing for the hutch and still provide them with a view.