Christmas Hazards

Christmas Hazards

Tis the season to be jolly!

Winter and Christmas time brings joy to man and pet alike, but there are some festive risks that every pet owner needs to be aware of:

  1. Chocolate – we all love it! Chocolate has a toxic component for dogs and cats called theobromine. Cacao and dark chocolate has the most. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity and even heart problems. At high doses it can trigger seizures and even death. Fortunately making your pet vomit and giving them activated charcoal helps reduce the risk of problems and if enough has been consumed then hospitalisation is sometimes required. 
  2. Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants – makes you think of Christmas pudding doesn’t it?  But these are all associated with kidney injury in dogs and cats and can lead to kidney failure! The association between the amount eaten and the severity is not known, so any amount can be very dangerous. Again making the pet vomit as soon as possible is important. The first signs of toxicity are lethargy and sometimes vomiting, followed by depression and irreversible kidney damage. The signs usually appear in the first 24 hours but by then it is often too late.
  3. Xylitol – the sweetest of treats! This a commonly used sweetener in candy and in some baking goods. It is also found in chewing gum and dental products. But this popular sweetener is very toxic for dogs and even a very small amount can cause low blood sugar, lethargy, tremors and seizures. A high dose will cause liver failure and can be fatal for most dogs. Making your dog vomit straight after eating anything that has xylitol and putting them on a drip is crucial.
  1. Human pain reliefs – for all those after-party headaches! Ibuprofen and paracetamol are readily available over-the-counter and are also found in almost every home. Paracetamol, even at the smallest dose will cause your cat’s red blood cells to die and can lead to liver failure in dogs. Some cats might even need a blood transfusions to survive. Ibuprofen causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy, and can lead to kidney insufficiency and seizures. Making dogs and cats vomit as quick as possible and fluid therapy reduces the risk of complications.     
  2. Onions and garlic – ah, pies and roasts! They go into many human foods that cats and dogs find delicious and you might find your cat or dog is lethargic and has pale gums if eaten. These vegetables can cause severe anaemia. If caught early making them vomit can prevent serious blood loss otherwise intensive care and even a blood transfusion might be required.
  3. Antifreeze – the one that helps you drive to Nan’s Christmas dinner! Ethylene glycol is the chemical in antifreeze that tastes sweet for our four-legged friends. It is toxic for dogs, cats, humans and rabbits alike and as little as a teaspoon can be deadly for a full grown cat. Signs like depression and lethargy, or even vomiting are the first one. But this chemical is renowned for causing kidney failure. Prompt vomit induction and fluid therapy are needed. The first sign to be suspicious off is the dog or cat licking the ground or their lips around a car that had antifreeze replaced recently or in the garage that has antifreeze.  

So with all of the festive merriment please try to remember your four legged friends and should you be concerned please phone your vet for some advice whatever the time of day.

We hope that this will help keeping your pets safe over the holidays and wish you a Purrfect Christmas!

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