It may be the time of year for merriment and food for many families, but Christmas can pose some serious dangers to the nation’s pets.
According to veterinary experts, Christmas is one of the busiest times for emergencies such as accidental poisonings.
Every year, vet practices are called to help pets that have fallen sick as a result of one of the numerous hazards Christmas brings, from decorations to festive foods.
From tinsel to trifle, the trappings of the festive period represent many potential hazards for pets, and owners are being urged to recognise the dangers this year to reduce the thousands of incidents vets across the country have to deal with during Christmas.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Far from being a Scrooge by asking owners to think about their pets, we are hoping to give everyone the present of a safe, incident free Christmas.
“We understand that Christmas can be a very hectic time for pet owners, but it is important to keep an eye on pets during this period.”
Christmas trees are a key centrepiece in most family homes in the festive season, however they can be a potential problem for pets.
Cats in particular love to climb trees, while dogs and cats will eat tinsel, decorations and sometimes even the angel. Christmas tree lights and wiring should also be kept away from inquisitive pets.
But by far the biggest danger over the festive period is food. Vets report a marked increase in pets falling seriously ill through eating festive nibbles and treats.
Among one of the more extreme cases involved a three day stay at the vets for a miniature poodle that had eaten six large mince pies – the dog eventually made a full recovery.
In another case a cocker spaniel ate three large pieces of Christmas cake, resulting in her stomach being pumped and an extended stay at a vet surgery.
Dr Stacey added, “It can be very tempting for owners to give their pet leftovers of the Christmas meal. However, we strongly advise against this, as festive foods like chocolate, raisins, nuts and the Christmas pudding can be toxic to pets.”
Cats aren’t innocent though, as another surgery found out when one was admitted for getting tinsel wrapped around its tongue.
Dr Stacey added: “The festive period can be scary for pets, as their home is invaded with lots of people and loud noises. We suggest that owners make sure their pet has a quiet place in the house where they can relax.
“Accidents and illnesses caused by Christmas hazards are easily preventable if owners take simple commonsense precautions.”