Consider these Christmas dangers for your pet

11 December 2023

Christmas is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year! However, it also comes with new foods, plants, toys and presents that can be a danger to your beloved pets. We’re highlighting the top things that you should be mindful of over the Christmas period.

Toxic foods

There are many different toxic foods that are popular at Christmas. Raisins, grapes, currants, sultanas, and dates are all commonly found in mince pies, Christmas cake, Panettone or accompanying a cheese board. Many blue cheeses contain a substance called roquefortine C, which dogs are sensitive to. Macadamia nuts can cause tremors, muscle weakness, vomiting and hyperthermia in pets.

Plants of the Allium family, which consists of onions and garlic, can cause gastrointestinal upset but can also lead to anaemia which may not be apparent for number of days. Onions and garlic are often found in stuffing and gravy, so be mindful of this. Cooked bones can also splinter easily and can therefore cause intestinal perforation if eaten.

Toxic plants

One of the most common Christmas plants, Mistletoe, can result in gastrointestinal upset if your pet ingests any European mistletoe berries, but the American species of the plant is more toxic. Holly berries and Ivy may also result in gastrointestinal symptoms, but both plants are considered to be of low toxicity. Poinsettia can cause mild symptoms, including irritation to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract if consumed.

Pine needles can cause mild gastrointestinal signs in pets and could also cause abrasions in the mouth if eaten. In severe cases, pine needles may cause intestinal perforation. Ensure that trees are kept watered in a bid to reduce the number of needles dropped and vacuum any dropped needles daily.

Other hazards

Christmas can be a stressful time for pets, with additional visitors to the house, extra noise and differing routines. Try to provide places where your pet can retreat to and keep their routines as consistent as possible. If you are travelling with your pets, make sure they have a bed or a blanket with a familiar smell to help prevent them from feeling stressed.

Christmas decorations can cause injury if pets play with them or may cause intestinal obstructions if eaten. Try to make sure that your Christmas tree is decorated with shatter-proof baubles. Some Christmas presents, such as toys, will come with batteries which can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning if ingested.

If in any doubt as to what your pet may have ingested, contact your vet for advice.