In the lead up to Christmas there are hidden dangers which catch out pet owners every year.

Here are resident veterinary surgeon Sarah Wallace's top 12 risks of Christmas. Making sure our furry companions don’t get hold of these will help to avoid an emergency trip to the vets over the festive period. Although we see most of these problems throughout the year, we definitely see peaks at Christmas. 

1. Chocolate: Even if it is wrapped and under a tree, pets can sniff them out. Our favourite human treat contains the stimulant theobromine which can cause seizures and heart rhythm abnormalities. 

2. Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies: Raisins, sultanas and grapes are key ingredients to many Christmas treats and these can also be deadly if eaten. They can cause acute kidney injury, which can lead to kidney failure.

3. Nuts: The nuts and shells can be a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal problems. Macadamia nuts present an additional risk as ingestion has been associated with vomiting and weakness.

4. Bones and fatty foods: Fatty foods can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis and bones can splinter when chewed. This can lead to the digestive tract being pierced or an obstruction.

5. The sweetener Xylitol: Found in many foods including sweets, cakes and some peanut butter. Affected animals present with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) leading to loss of coordination, collapse and seizures within half an hour of consumption. Liver failure can follow.

6. Onion, including gravy and stuffing:  Onions, garlic and spring onions can cause gastrointestinal upset and lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia. 

7. Rock salt (grit): Dogs and cats often lick it off their paws, but it is toxic and can result in a high blood sodium concentration leading to vomiting, lethargy, convulsions and kidney damage.

8. Tinsel and ribbons: These can be swallowed and become entangled in the intestines, causing life-threatening blockages. 

9. Christmas baubles and fairy lights: Enticing to cats and dogs. Ingestion of pine needles can cause stomach upsets and intestinal problems. Baubles can lead to lacerations or intestinal blockages. Fairy lights can also cause these problems as well as getting tangled up in them and electrocutions.

10. Holly, ivy and mistletoe: All can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, drooling, abnormal heart rate, seizures and even death

11. Toys:  Can cause mouth lacerations and small parts can be swallowed and cause intestinal blockages. 

12. Batteries:  If chewed and swallowed they can cause damage to the oesophagus, obstruction, chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning.

If you know, or even just suspect, that your pet has eaten any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us on 01228 710208.