A Warwickshire vet practice is warning pet owners to be aware of household hazards which could affect their animals at Christmas in a bid to avoid an emergency trip to surgery.
Kieran O’Halloran, clinical director at Avonvale Veterinary Centres, says the festive period can present a minefield of potential issues for pets as homes are decorated and a range of food and drink is often accessible.
Among the items which present risks to pets at Christmas are ribbons on presents, tinsel, sharp tree needles, low-lying fairy lights, chestnuts and chocolates.
Alcoholic drinks are also dangerous and a traditional Christmas favourite, Baileys Irish Cream, can prove particularly dispiriting for animals.
Kieran said: “Christmas and the associated festivities can present a bit of a minefield for pet owners. For example, dogs will drink most forms of alcohol left in glasses at Christmas parties, so people need to be wary of leaving glasses where their animals can get them.
“The signs of ethanol intoxication are similar to those in humans – vomiting, depression, a lack of co-ordination, disorientation and drowsiness. Dogs in these conditions need warmth, rehydration and immediate nursing care.”
Other food items which should be on pet owners’ radars include grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas, which can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats, along with macadamia nuts, onions and mouldy foods such as walnuts, bread and cheese.
And festive plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia, holly and ivy can all cause upset stomachs in pets, while lilies can be very harmful to cats.
Kieran said: “Christmas can often be a busy and quite chaotic time. You can help your pet cope with the chaos by keeping to their normal routine and if you are spending Christmas day with friends or family and your dog is going with you, take something which smells familiar to help them feel secure.
“We’d also recommend using a calming diffuser, as with fireworks celebrations.
“In terms of household hazards, while tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for your pet to play with, just make sure they don’t eat it.”