Christmas Dangers To Look Out For

With Christmas just around the corner, every household will be full of interesting foods, attractive decorations, Christmas presents and of course the ever-enticing Christmas tree! Although it may be charming to share the Christmas love with your pets in the form of treats and presents, some may be harmful and downright disastrous so let’s look at what you should beware of for your pets this festive season.

1. Chocolate

Chocolate contains theobromine which is very toxic to cats and dogs. Generally speaking the darker the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine it contains and therefore the more poisonous it is.

Chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhoea initially, but it can also subsequently lead to muscle tremors, seizures and heart problems that may be fatal if a large amount of chocolate goodies have been consumed.

Keep all chocolate presents, decorations, advent calendars out of reach from your beloved pets and definitely do not leave them under the Christmas tree unattended!

2. Raisins, grapes, currants and sultanas

It is not known clearly why grapes, raisins and sultanas are toxic to dogs but what we do know is that these yummy foods can cause kidney failure, and sometimes there can be a delay effect where clinical signs would only show two or three days later.

So, foods to look out for include Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings, mince pies, fruit cakes which are loaded with these yummy fruits. 

3. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause weakness in the pet’s hindlimbs, dullness, lethargy and they can appear wobbly on their feet. They can also get a high body temperature.

When swallowed whole, these nuts can sometimes cause obstruction in the intestines as well so be sure to keep them away from your fur babies, especially the mouth-watering flavoured ones.

4. Alcohol

What’s not to like about a little egg nog during Christmas? When it ends up in your dog’s tummy of course! Dogs are likely to be more sensitive to ethanol than humans so even small amounts ingested can cause problems. Alcoholic drinks when consumed can cause drowsiness, wobbly back feet, low body temperature and blood sugar, seizures and coma in the worst-case scenario. 

5. Bones

After much begging and puppy eyes showing at the dining table you decide to share the ham bone from your Christmas lunch with your pet; BAD IDEA. Not only the fattiness of the marrow of the bone can cause pancreatitis, cooked bones are brittle and splinter easily so the bigger pieces can cause an obstruction whilst tiny pieces can cause irritation or laceration in the gut. Keep the bins cleared to prevent stealing as well. 

6. Allium species

The Allium family includes onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives. They all contain a substance that can breakdown red blood cells when consumed leading to anaemia. Signs of illness may include vomiting, diarrhoea, dullness, lethargy, off their food or rapid breathing, sometimes these signs may not show up until a few days later so keep allium based dishes, stuffing and gravies away from your pets.

7. Rich fatty foods

Fat trimmings off your Christmas roast, a piece of fatty meat off the dinner plate can all cause pancreatitis in cats and dogs if too much consumed. Sometimes even the smallest amounts can cause them to have a serious and painful bout of vomiting, diarrhea and sore belly so be mindful of what Christmas treats your pets are getting.

8. Blue cheese

Blue cheeses are stinky but tasty to some people and likely to appeal to some dogs and cats as well. They contain roquefortine C, a substance produced by a fungus used to make blue cheeses. Dogs appear to be sensitive to roquefortine C, they can show signs of vomiting, agitation, tremors and even seizures when ingested.

9. Avocados

Avocados can sometimes cause mild toxicity in cats and dogs. Signs such as vomiting, and diarrhea may present. The main concern would be when the seed is swallowed! It is almost guaranteed that gut obstruction will happen so be careful to keep avocados away from your pets!

10. Mouldy foods

Last but not least, mouldy foods can cause intoxication in your pets. For owners that have fur babies who double as a bin raider, be sure to keep the trash cans in the kitchen area inaccessible to them or clear the trash away promptly. When mouldy foods are consumed, your cat or dog may show signs of muscle tremors and seizures. If you are composting your food scraps, make sure they are in a sealed container.

Other things to be mindful of as well are Christmas baubles and tinsel on your Christmas tree, gift wrap, silica gel sachets and batteries as these items can cause blockage in the gut if eaten. Chewing on batteries can also cause chemical burns or even heavy metal poisoning in some cases. Plants such as poinsettia are also mildly toxic and can cause excessive salivation and vomiting if chewed on.

So there you have it, a naughty list of foods that needs to be kept away from your pets if you don’t fancy a trip to the vets during Christmas! If you are concerned that your fur babies have eaten something that they shouldn’t have, be sure to contact your veterinarian. Make sure that you have as much information as possible about the food or items ingested as you can on hand to facilitate diagnosis and treatment. Do not attempt to make your cat or dog sick at home as this can sometimes cause other complications that can make the situation worse.