Seasonal hazards in the home

We may still be weeks away from the big day itself, but where pets are concerned, it’s never too early to talk about Christmas. As we prepare our homes with festive sparkle and fill the air with the smells of seasonal treats, here at The Pet Vet, we have some handy reminders of some of the dangers that can plague our beloved pets. 

Our Veterinary Surgeon, Louise Scanlon, highlights some of the key issues and explains how to avoid these seasonal pitfalls. 

“Our homes are full of hidden dangers to pets, but for most of the year, we are aware of where these may be and take the necessary precautions to keep them out of the reach of curious furry friends. However, as we prepare our homes for Christmas, we may unknowingly, introduce many more hazards that, without care, can cause serious harm to our pets,” says Louise.

Plants

As we begin to decorate each room, take a moment to consider the type and placement of plants. It may be that you are able to introduce a mixture of those detailed below, as long as they remain out of reach.

Plants like Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy are perhaps only mildly toxic to cats and dogs, but nevertheless will result in a poorly pet. Far more dangerous are lilies, which for cats are extremely dangerous. Your cat need only eat one or two leaves, or drink from the vase water and the toxicity can become fatal. This is one flower we would perhaps advise against. Keep an eye on dried, scented festive additions, such as Potpourri, as this too can cause harm when ingested and even prove to be a choking hazard.

Foods 

Here at The Pet Vet, we’re all about enjoying the feasts and treats of the season, but let’s not share them with our furry friends! We often need to give medical attention to a pet that has greedily licked up a few pieces of mince pie filling or helped itself to a chocolate decoration. So, whilst we can safely savour every bite, our poor pets suffer greatly with some of these human foodstuffs.

We would advise keeping dried fruits, grapes and raisins away from your pets and be aware that these are often hidden when baked into puddings and cake, so stay vigilant, try not to leave side plates and leftovers within reach of pets.

Cooked bones might look like a harmless tasty treat but can easily break to become a choking hazard too, or lead to intestinal blockages, so again, caution is advised. Even an innocent helping of stuffing with your roast dinner, hides potential harm. Often filled with onion and garlic, which will upset your beloved pet, it’s not for consumption off the table!

We understand that sometimes a little cheese is a favourite treat…proceed with caution. Cheese is not recommended for pets, stick to pet-specific treats around this time. Blue cheeses are especially harmful to cats and dogs, so make sure they stay out of reach.

A common sugar substitute, Xylitol, can be extremely harmful, even fatal if your dog, for example, gets his teeth into it. Even a small amount can cause blood sugar levels to plummet and can lead to liver failure. It can also be found in toothpastes and mouthwash, so even outside of the seasonal treats, this is one to have on your watchlist.

And who doesn’t love a little tipple at Christmas? We say, of course, raise a glass or two. But be aware that alcohol not only harms us humans if taken to excess, but just small amounts can also prove fatal for our pets. Please do not leave alcoholic drinks or bottles where a pet can swipe at it. They are curious little friends and just want to join in the party!

Symptoms of intoxication

Reactions to food may range from mild unsettled behaviour, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and lack of appetite, through to seizures, collapse and coma. So, if you do see any of these symptoms in your pet this Christmas and you fear they may have ingested something they shouldn’t, please give us a call immediately and one of our team will be able to advise on the best course of action. We are always here when you need us. Prompt action can help your pet achieve the best outcome.

General considerations 

From choking hazards to glass in paws, electrical wiring to intestinal upsets, your pets are surrounded by additional hazards at this time of year. Being aware of them allows you to prepare a safer environment. Consider how accessible your festive additions could be and take steps to remove the temptation. Ask our team about products that will help calm your pet during this busier time or deter them from climbing the tree!

We can all do a little extra planning to ensure Christmas can be enjoyed without a trip to the vet! Get ahead of the hazards this Christmas and have a happy, healthy and pet-safe celebration!

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