Don’t let Christmas treats turn into a dog’s dinner

Pet dog at Christmas.
Pet dog at Christmas.
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The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) are urging pet owners to watch out for potential hazards to their pets this Christmas.

Traditional treats, such as chocolate and tinsel, are very festive but vets are increasingly concerned by the health problems they cause animals.

The tasty Christmas lunch for human members of the family can pose real dangers for dogs. Turkey bones, onions, garlic, and raisins all have the potential to make your pet seriously ill, and in the case of small bones, even require surgery to remove.

Vet John Blackwell, BVA President, said: “For the whole family, Christmas is a special time and of course we want to include our much loved pets in the festive fun. But owners should be very aware that tasty treats and shiny baubles – which pets find hard to resist – can be toxic and dangerous for our four legged friends.

“Last year my practice treated four dogs with chocolate poisoning over Christmas week. Our advice is to keep human goodies, particularly chocolate, away from pets. If your dog still manages to eat chocolate, it is important to contact your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to calculate the likely toxicity and advise a course of action. It is really helpful if you can keep the wrapper so they can see the ingredients – if the wrapper hasn’t been eaten too!”

Whilst it can be tempting to include pets in the traditional Christmas indulgence, they really need to have a consistently balanced, appropriate diet. So indulge them instead with a new toy or a long walk after dinner instead – something the whole family can enjoy.

In order to keep the Christmas season merry for the whole household the BVA and BSAVA are urging animal-lovers to ensure their home is safe for four-legged friends by following these five simple tips.

Protect your pet from poisons – a number of festive treats, such as chocolate, grapes, sweets and liquorice are toxic to cats and dogs.

Keep decorations out of reach – ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can all prove irresistible to cats and dogs but can be very dangerous if broken, chewed or swallowed. Try to keep decorations and blu-tack out of reach of curious pets. Batteries for Christmas gifts also need to be kept safe. If ingested they may cause severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach.

Forget festive food for pets – we all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn’t be shared with our beloved animals. They can trigger indigestion, sickness and diarrhoea – or even conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis. So try to stick to your pet’s regular diet and routine.

Give toys not treats – we all want our pets to share the fun and many of us include a gift for our pet on the shopping list. But too many treats can lead to fat, unhappy animals so consider opting for a new toy, extra cuddles or a long walk if you want to indulge your pet this Christmas.

Know where to go – even with all the care in the world, animal accidents and emergencies can still happen. Make sure you’re prepared by checking your vet’s emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours.