With all the excitement, and stress, of Christmas, the last thing anyone needs is an unexpected trip to the vets.
Unfortunately the festive period is a common time for pets to suffer various mishaps, perhaps because our minds are on other things. But there are so many temptations for our furry friends, so I thought I’d give a brief run-down of the most common reasons we see pets over the holidays, and of course how to avoid seeing us over the holidays.
Decorations, toys and visitor belongings can all be very exciting for our pets to investigate. The problem is that most of these items are not designed to be chewed. Christmas lights have the potential of causing electrocution, baubles can damage the mouth and it is always surprising what items pets will swallow!
A foreign body in the digestive tract can result in a blockage and cause severe vomiting and ultimately expensive surgery. Cats are surprisingly prone to swallowing tinsel and other pieces of Christmas decorations, often resulting in a nasty condition known as a linear foreign body.
Ensure decorations are out of reach of pets, and consider carefully those tempting presents left under the tree – if only bacuse your dog unwrapping your presents before you do is particularly annoying!
Many of us use holly, mistletoe and poinsettias to add some colour to the house. However they are toxic to pets, causing a nasty stomach upset if consumed. Reduce the risk of your pet coming into contact with these plants by siting them in a place where they cannot be reached and remove any fallen berries and leaves straight away.
The tree can also present an endless list of problems, as well as making a mess of the carpet in the new year! They need to be firmly supported to ensure large energetic dogs don’t knock them over leading to a whole host of potential injuries to themselves not to mention the devastation it may cause in the home. If you are thinking of getting a traditional, rooted tree remember to cover the soil otherwise the cat may use the area as a toilet – not the present you were expecting on Christmas morning!
The needles that drop from the tree can also create problems. They can stick in the coat and paws of pets, creating intense pain. Like grass seeds, needles have the ability to penetrate a long way up into the foot, commonly between the pads of the paw and even start to work up the leg!
Chocolate and fruit cake
Chocolate contains a substance – theobromine - that can induce severe toxic effects especially in dogs. Just 100g of dark chocolate could cause poisoning in a small dog. Chocolate sold specifically for dog treats contains less theobromine and therefore shouldn’t cause any harm. Grapes are also potentially toxic to dogs causing acute renal failure if ingested in large quantities. So while the odd one or two are not likely to cause problems, cakes and puddings rich in dried fruit can be a real threat. All chocolate should be well wrapped and stored away from pets and ensure they are unable to raid the Christmas cake or pudding!
With all the Christmas food the festive period is a classic time for over indulgence and many owners want to treat their pet in some way. But while we classically only have to deal with a bout of indigestion our dogs and cats are not adaptable to cope with a sudden diet change or the addition of rich food and can end up with a nasty stomach upset. This can be inconvenient at the least and in the more severe cases require hospitalisation. Bones of course are a risk too. Stick with your pet’s normal diet this Christmas and treat them with attention and new toys instead, and remember to defrost the turkey somewhere safe!
It isn’t only Mum that gets stressed around Christmas. The change in routine, having lots of visitors, Christmas crackers, party poppers and the ever increasing popularity of fireworks at this time of year can take their toll. Try plugging in an Adaptil diffuser (available from our branches), which can help keep the dog calm and stress free over the festive period.
Remember if your pet does become ill over Christmas, Robson and Prescott vets are here for you through the holidays 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We would like to wish you all a Merry Chrsitmas and Happy New Year.