A Lincolnshire veterinary practice is warning pet owners to be extra vigilant during the countdown to Christmas to avoid an emergency trip to the surgery.
Vets at Eastfield Veterinary Hospital, in North Thoresby, are preparing for a flurry of cases of pets being brought in after suffering illness or injury.
In the run up to Christmas, most homes are full of extra food and drink and there are more cases of potentially fatal poisoning than at any other time of year, with cats and dogs rushed to vets after eating foods that are toxic or dangerous to pets.
Common emergencies include dogs choking or suffering internal damage from turkey bones, and pets being poisoned by chocolate, mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, while over feeding fatty food can damage your pet’s pancreas or cause gastroenteritis.
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which is toxic to dogs, while raisins, currants and sultanas in mince pies and Christmas cake are also poisonous. Other festive hazards include poinsettias, pine needles, holly berries and mistletoe, which can all cause illness if eaten.
In recent years, pets have also been brought into Eastfield Vets’ two branches in North Thoresby and Cleethorpes after eating or chewing decorations like tinsel, twinkling lights and toys on the tree.
Vet Wendy Adams said: “During December, we see many cases of pets that have eaten something they shouldn’t have and the number increases as we get closer to Christmas Day.
“We see a lot of examples of poisoning over the festive period. In most cases, the owner was completely unaware of the hidden dangers and was simply intending to be kind to their pet.
“You don’t want a poorly pet or a trip to the vets on Christmas Day. Even worse, would be losing a pet over the festive period, so we urge owners to be extra careful.
“We see a lot of cases of dogs stealing the Christmas turkey or taking chocolate from the under the tree, so it is important to keep food and treats out of reach of pets.”
While many people hope for a white Christmas, vets are urging pet owners and car owners alike to be vigilant with antifreeze, which is highly toxic and most often fatal if eaten. Cats often walk through the substance and then lick it off their paws, causing poisoning.
Taking a few simple steps to keep pets safe can prevent festive fun turning sour, but owners should also be prepared for the worst if accidents happen.
Wendy added: “If your pet eats something it shouldn’t, contact your vet straight away and make sure you provide a full report on what has been eaten, how much and when.
“The faster we can see a pet, the better so we can induce vomiting if necessary and assess the level of toxicity.
“If your pet is a scavenger, it may be best to keep any left overs in a cupboard out of reach. It is recommended that owners pet-proof presents that are under the tree as we see a lot of cases where pets have sniffed them out and eaten them.”
Eastfield Vets has issued tips to keep your pet safe over Christmas
• Alcohol - Keep alcoholic drinks and food containing alcohol out of your pet’s reach. It has similar side effects to humans and can cause serious liver damage.
• Aspirin and Ibuprofen - If you’ve stocked-up on painkillers for your Boxing Day hangover, keep them out of your pet’s way as they can be fatal if swallowed.
• Antifreeze – If there’s snow and ice over Christmas, make sure your cat doesn’t have access to Antifreeze and mop up any spills. It is highly toxic and most often fatal – but cats like the sweet taste.
• Batteries - Although we use batteries year-round, at Christmas they can be easily left on the floor by children or in toys that an unsupervised dog may play with or chew. They can cause serious damage so care should be taken so they’re out of your dog’s reach.
• Chocolate - A chemical in chocolate known as theobromine can cause serious harm to your pet. The darker and higher the percentage of cocoa, the more theobromine is in the chocolate. Keep it out of reach of your pet.
• Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding – Raisins, sultanas and currants can cause kidney failure in some pets and can be fatal.
• Cooked bones - Turkey, chicken, lamb, beef and pork bones that are cooked can easily splinter and perforate your dog’s stomach. They are dangerous and should never be fed to a dog.
• Fireworks – If your pet is frightened of New Year’s Eve fireworks, speak to your vet in advance for advice. Keep them safely indoors, close curtains and turn on the TV to block out the noise.
• Holly berries – Can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivation and weakness in dogs.
• Mistletoe - Causes stomach problems and may cause skin irritations.
• Poinsettia - Popular Christmas plants that are toxic to cats. Can cause vomiting, excessive salivation, loss of appetite, lethargy and depression.
• Sugar free sweets and mints – Contain a chemical known as xylitol, used to sweeten mints and sweets that are sugar-free can cause serious damage to your pet.