Christmas is coming, and it’s important to know what to watch out for as we see more pets at this time of year with upset tummies than normal. Our nurses Hazel and Beth have written a blog to highlight our Top 10 Christmas Poisons to watch out for this year.
“The time of year is coming to eat too much, drink too much and of course spend time with loved ones, including our furry companions. Of course, we are talking about Christmas! Here are a few tips to keep your pets safe during the coming festivities.
Chocolate: The most commonly reported toxicity at Christmas time. Theobromine is the toxic ingredient in coco solids, dark chocolate poses the greatest risk but watch out for those edible Christmas tree decorations and wrapped chocolate gifts Santa might leave under the tree. They might just be too tempting for your hairy Christmas helper! Fortunately, if medical advice is sought immediately, pets that have eaten chocolate can be treated successfully.
Grapes and Raisins/ Sultanas: Perhaps less known. Even one or two can be toxic to your pet. Not all dogs are effected the same but side effects include renal (kidney) damage or failure. If your pet has eaten any grapes or raisins which may be whole or in mince pies, biscuits or Christmas cake please call us immediately.
Antifreeze: Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol. It tastes very sweet and appealing to pets. Effects of antifreeze poisoning are vomiting, diarrhoea and “drunkness”. Often, the kidneys are severely affected but prompt treatment will limit the amount of damage the kidneys suffer. Always store in a safe out of reach cupboard or container.
Blue cheese: Dogs are sensitive to roquefortine C. In extreme cases this can cause muscle tremors and seizures. Any kind of mouldy food can also be toxic so it’s best to empty your indoor bin regularly.
Cooked bones (not raw): Not technically a toxin but certainly a dangerous food. While we encourage raw bones to be feed to pets for their various health benefits we cannot stress the dangers of feeding cooked bones enough. A leftover cooked bone will become brittle and splinter easily. This can lead to perforation through the digestive tract or obstruction. Be aware that even though you may not give your pet any cooked bones your mischievous pet may dig a carcass out of the kitchen bin so it’s safest to dispose of cooked bones straight into the outdoor bin.
Xylitol: Found more frequently than ever in our foods. Xylitol is a sweeter found in many sweet and baked goods, drinks and chewing gum. Ingestion can lead to hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose or blood sugar levels) which can cause serious issues with the nervous system and can be fatal. Xylitol can also cause damage to the liver and this may not be apparent for some time after ingestion.
Alcohol: Like with humans if a dog or a cat ingests alcohol it causes depression of the central nervous system. Although it is hard to imagine your beloved cat sipping on a glass of rioja, many foods around Christmas are fermented with alcohol. Be extra careful of anyone giving your pet titbits and clean up any spillages. Alcohol can give pets unpleasant side effects, similar to humans.
Allium species: chives garlics, onion’s, leeks and shallots all belong to this food group. This festive season watch out for stuffing and onion gravy. This toxicity can cause haemolytic anemia (damage to the red cells in the blood). Clinical signs may not be noticeable straight away. Your pet may show signs of rapid breathing, lethargy, diarrhoea or abdominal pain.
Plants: Poinsettia and lilies are the most toxic. Please contact us if you are worried your pet may have ingested any part of the plant. Holly, mistletoe and Christmas trees are not strictly poisonous but may cause gastro-intestinal upset or physical damage to the digestive tract.
Other items to be aware of:
Human medications: whether you’re unfortunate enough to pick up a winter cold or simply soothing a sore head after celebration it is vital that all paracetamol based products, flu remedies or ibuprofen are kept out of reach of pets.
Batteries: Lots of Christmas toys need batteries to operate and while may not think your pet would be interested in batteries, it is best to keep them out of reach. If swallowed whole, a battery can cause obstruction, signs include been off food, lethargy, and difficulty passing faces. If a battery is chewed it may cause your pet chemical burns due to the contents leaking.
Tinsel and decorations: A favourite choice of toy for cats at Christmas! If ingested, tinsel and other decorations can become stuck in the digestive tract.
What to do it you suspect your pet has eaten a poisonous food
Some of the signs to look out for are salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, behaviour changes, bleeding, collapse and seizures.
If you suspect your pet has eaten anything you are unsure of it is always best to call us straight away. Make a note of what your pet has eaten, how much and what time if you can. Try working out if the packaging is also missing. Remember to stay calm, chances are the kids ate the chocolates and have hid the evidence but we’re here to check and take care of your pet.
Hazel Huften SVN & Bethany Mendoza RVN
Our opening times this Christmas
If you need us at all over the festive period, you will find out opening times below. Our team work hard all year round, so we like to make sure that they are given a good Christmas break. if you call our clinic out of hours then you may be transferred to Leeds Emergency Vets in Morley, who we may use at some point during this time.
Christmas Eve: 9am – 12 noon & 1-4pm*
Christmas Day: Closed**
Boxing Day: Emergency Clinic 10am-12noon***
Tue 27th Dec: Emergency Clinic 10am-12noon***
New Years Eve: 9am-12noon & 1pm-4pm*
New Years Day: Closed**
Mon 2nd Jan: Emergency Clinic 10am-12noon***
*Our team on site will take emergency calls between 9am-4pm, outside of these times your call may be transferred to Leeds Emergency Vets.
**Our team are having a well deserved break! Any inpatients are continually cared for by our team at Cookridge, but any emergency calls at on these days will be taken by Leeds Emergency Vets.
***Our team will be taking emergency calls through to 6pm on these days, and the clinics are for emergencies only.