The ten pet hazards of Christmas

By Kellie Tickner, Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital Administrator

WITH Christmas fast approaching, we would like you and your pets to enjoy the holiday season. Unfortunately, there are hidden dangers. Christmas food, people, parties and changes in routine. You may not be able to supervise your pet as much as usual and at this time of year we find that pets can get themselves into all sorts of trouble.  

Watch out for the ten hazards of Christmas and enjoy a happy, healthy, holiday season!

1. Christmas dinner and leftovers: These are all too rich for our pets and can cause nasty tummy upsets and even life-threatening Pancreatitis. We recommend you feed your pet their usual treats, and avoid the temptation to feed your pet Christmas ham or pork under the table.

2. Fruit cake, fruit salad, grapes and sultanas: Some fruits are perfectly fine for dogs to eat in moderation, but grapes are not one of them. If you include grapes in fruit salads or desserts, make sure your dog cannot eat them. Grapes cause kidney failure in dogs and can cause lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting about twelve hours after ingestion. The dog will become increasingly dehydrated, may refuse to eat, and will show either an increase in or decrease in urination. Long-term kidney disease or death may follow.

3. Desserts: Desserts are everyone’s favourite part of Christmas, but they can be deadly for dogs especially if they involve chocolate. xylitol or alcohol. The compounds in both chocolate and xylitol can be fatal to dogs. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning include seizures, heart arrhythmias, and muscle tremors. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, xylitol will cause a fast, dangerous drop in blood sugar levels accompanied by disorientation and seizures. Some dogs can even develop liver failure, which may lead to death.

4. Macadamia nuts: Whilst they are very popular at Christmas, macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs if ingested. The toxicity leads to muscle weakness, vomiting and tremors

5. BBQ skewers can be catastrophic for pets if they are accidentally ingested. Take extra care to ensure your pet doesn’t grab one that has fallen off the BBQ. NEVER feed your pet cooked bones as these can splinter, or cause an obstruction, and result in the need for emergency intestinal surgery.

6. Christmas lilies: The toxic chemical in lilies that causes injuries to the kidneys is unknown but all components of the plant are toxic – this includes the petals, stamen, leaves and pollen. As little as one leaf or part of a single flower has been reported to cause death.

7. Decorations such as tinsel and fairy lights are very attractive to pets (especially cats) but can lead to a gastric obstruction if eaten.

8. Ribbons and string tied around presents are also super attractive to cats and if ingested can lead to a nasty gastric obstruction requiring emergency surgery.

9. The Christmas tree can be a real attraction to your pets. Whether real or artificial, the tree can be a hazard if your cat has a tendency to climb things they shouldn’t. Also, the oils produced by some real Christmas trees are also mildly toxic if consumed, causing irritation to a pet’s mouth and stomach

10. Lots of visitors to your house can cause your pet to become stressed and even lead to them trying to escape, so make sure they have a safe and quiet place to retreat to.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas, from the team at Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital 4736 2027.