Christmas, as we know, is “the most wonderful time of the year”… But what should be “the happiest season of all” can soon degenerate into something quite different, if we ignore the dangers our festive celebrations can pose to our animals. For instance, while Christmas dinner may look very tempting to your Labrador or Golden Retriever (and who are you to deny him on Christmas Day??), for them there is far more at stake than simply their waistline.
Among the many unexpected hazards on your Christmas menu are the onions in your gravy and stuffing. Onions contain a substance known as thiosulphate, which is toxic to dogs and cats, causing oxidative damage to red blood cells. Early signs of onion poisoning include diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy.
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Turkey bones – from your plate, kitchen counter, or rubbish bin – are hollow, and splinter easily, causing obstruction and sometimes perforation of the intestinal tract.
You also need to be cautious once pudding has arrived….. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies are rich in alcohol and raisins, which, like onions, are toxic to dogs and cats. Grapes and raisins are especially hazardous.
Nuts (macadamias, in particular) are likewise dangerous to pets. Signs of macadamia poisoning include weakness and ataxia (difficulty walking, due to lack of coordination).
Once you have removed the onions, bones, raisins and nuts from your pet’s Christmas dinner, you can treat them to some fat trimmings and roast potatoes but be aware fatty meals can result in loose stools or potentially a trip to the vets.
Sadly, not only our Christmas dinner but also our Christmas decorations, can be dangerous to pets. Christmas trees (pine), holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all mildly toxic, causing diarrhoea and vomiting if ingested. Furthermore, though we may know chocolate is toxic to pets, it is easy to overlook the chocolate coins dangling enticingly from branches, or wrapped beneath the tree.
Non-chocolate tree decorations can also be tempting to our pets. As well as presenting a choking hazard, baubles tend to shatter, causing lacerations to the mouth and/or intestines. Tinsel can be eaten like spaghetti. Unlike spaghetti, however, tinsel bunches and twists within the intestines, requiring immediate surgery.
We all know the festive season can be stressful, but, by following these tips, and ensuring your pets are safe this Christmas, you can at least avoid the expense of an unscheduled visit to your vets. Now, go have yourselves a merry little Christmas… Santa Paws is coming to town.