Morpeth veterinary centre offers advice on keeping pets safe over festive season

Pets can safely join in the festive fun.
Pets can safely join in the festive fun.

With the festive season upon us, I thought I would highlight some of the potential dangers lurking for our pets at this time of year.

Christmas trees can be the cause of a few problems. If chewed, mild vomiting and diarrhoea can result. Falling pine needles can also get stuck in pads, and if swallowed can irritate the intestines. Baubles can smash and cause irritation of the guts or blockages, and although tinsel is not particularly toxic, if eaten in a long strand can lead to a nasty blockage of the intestines. The hazards of lights, I feel, goes without saying.

Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia can cause mild symptoms such as drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea if chewed, so should be kept out of reach where possible – difficult with cats, I know. Also be aware of floral arrangements containing lillies – they are highly toxic.

Most of us are aware of the dangers of chocolate. The main component of chocolate that causes problems for our pets is theobromine; small amounts can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, with larger amounts causing erratic heart rates and can be fatal. Raisins are commonly found in many items, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and Christmas cake. These can be highly toxic to the kidneys, and even small amounts can cause very severe problems. Christmas pudding and cake may contain nuts, with macedamia nuts also a hazard for our pets.

Presents under the tree look attractive to both us and our pets; although we may have forgotten what we’ve wrapped, our dogs certainly haven’t! Make sure any food-related presents are placed away from the keen snout of any canine companion. Another present-related hazard to be aware of are batteries. If chewed or pierced in any way before swallowing, they will cause chemical burns and/or metal poisoning. Batteries that are swallowed whole will degrade and cause problems, but can also cause obstructions.

Please, regardless of what joint you’ve chosen to eat on Christmas Day, make sure your pet doesn’t steal (or get given) the cooked bones, which are prone to splintering. Although it can be very tempting to give ourfour legged friends their own Christmas dinner, they find it hard to cope with the high fat content, and this can lead to a very painful bout of pancreatitis.

If your pet manages to get into mischief over the festive period, we are, as always, on the end of phone for any advice needed. Merry Christmas.