Pet-proof your home this Christmas to avoid these hazards

December 16, 2021

One of the best things about Christmas is the volume of yummy and exciting things around the house – and our pets tend to agree. Towcester Vets’ team of experienced veterinary nurses have pulled together a list of festive pet hazards to be aware of this Christmas. We also have a handy tick list to help you pet-proof your home and avoid these dangers.

Download our pet-proofing tick list

Just in case your cat, dog, or rabbit does get into trouble, we have included the symptoms to look out for below too. You can always call us in an emergency on 01327 350239.

13 Festive Pet Hazards

  1. Chocolate – This much-loved treat contains theobromine, which is poisonous to pets. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity, and seizures, which can be seen 4-24 hours after ingestion and in extreme cases can be fatal.
  2. Onions, Garlic & Chives These contain thiosulphate, which is poisonous to cats, dogs, and rabbits whether eaten raw or cooked into meals. Signs of poisoning are seen 2-4 days after ingestion and include lethargy, breathlessness, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
  3. Alcohol – This is much more toxic to animals than humans. Ingestion of food or drink containing even small amounts of alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, co-ordination issues, depression, tremors, coma, and death.
  4. Raisins, Currants & Grapes – These fruits are toxic whether eaten alone or in cakes, mince pies, and other foods. They can cause kidney failure so do not give your pet any. Symptoms can take several days to appear and include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, and excessive drinking.
  5. Nuts – The fat in nuts can make them difficult for pets to digest. Swallowing nuts whole can cause internal obstructions and serious clinical problems. Macadamia nuts are toxic to pets and can cause weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting, and a high temperature. Signs develop within 12 hours of ingestion and can last 12-48 hours, but should be treated immediately.
  6. Fats, Spices & Seasoning – Poultry skin, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, and gravy are usually high in fat (and some contain onion and garlic) and can cause pancreatitis in cats and dogs. Anything heavily spiced or seasoned can also cause problems, as your pet’s stomach is not used to it. Stuffing typically contains several harmful ingredients.
  7. Cooked poultry bones – Chicken and turkey bones especially become brittle during cooking and can splinter. This can cause injuries to your pet’s mouth, tongue, oesophagus, windpipe, stomach, or intestines.
  8. Poinsettia – The leaves of this plant contain a sap that is irritating to the mouth and oesophagus tissues. Ingestion causes nausea and vomiting. Poisoning would only occur if large amounts are ingested, which is unlikely due to the irritation.
  9. Holly – Another festive favourite, holly leaves and berries are toxic and if ingested will cause severe intestinal upset, resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea.
  10. Mistletoe – Ingesting the leaves or berries can cause mild signs of digestive irritation, such as drooling, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Large amounts can lead to more severe issues, including low blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, collapse, and seizures.
  11. Christmas trees – The oils produced by fir trees can cause irritation to your pet’s mouth and stomach, leading to excessive drooling or vomiting. The needles alone can cause great pain to your pet if eaten. The water your Christmas tree is sitting in contains bacteria, mould, and fertilisers from the tree that can make pets very sick.
  12. Christmas decorations & gifts – Anything your pet can break and step on, get stuck in, eat or drink (if not for them), or choke on is a hazard. Eating string and socks can cause severe stomach issues, and tinsel consumption can lead to dehydration, diarrhoea, lethargy, appetite loss, abdomen pain, pawing at the mouth, vomiting, and weakness.
  13. Essential oils – It is important to do your research as many oils are toxic to pets. If your pet has ingested, inhaled, or got essential oils on their paws or coat, they might appear depressed, unsteady, and have a low body temperature. In severe cases there may be vomiting and diarrhoea as well.

With all of these hazards in the home this time of year, our nursing team at Towcester Vets advise that it is best to be prepared. As well as keeping the above list to hand, be sure to grab our Festive Pet-Proofing Tick List for your home. By having everything covered now, you and your pets can safely enjoy the rest of the holidays.

Download our pet-proofing tick list

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