In the throes of your festive preparations – including gift buying, tree decorating and grotto visiting – how many of us stop to put our pet’s safety on the Christmas list?
With treats in abundance over Christmas, pet owners are being urged to be cautious.
An astounding third of pet owners will experience an emergency this festive season, and the UK’s leading out-of-hours pet emergency service, Vets Now will see a 57% surge in calls in the run-up to Christmas as worried pet owners battle with the unexpected dangers of Christmas. Vets Now sees a 788% increase in chocolate poisoning cases alone over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Dave Leicester, head of clinical intelligence, Vets Now, said: ‘As a nation of pet lovers we all want to make sure our cherished companions join in with family Christmas celebrations, but at such a busy time of year for families, it’s easy to overlook the many hazards which can put them at risk of injury or illness.
‘We are encouraging pet owners not to let treats turn into treatment. There are well-known dangers – such as chocolate and raisins – that could put your pet at risk this Christmas, but many pet owners might not be aware of the more unexpected dangers that could see you spending your Christmas in the pet emergency room.’
Here, Vets Now emergency staff have divulged the most unusual cases to come through their emergency hospitals and clinics at Christmas time.
· Jealous of his owner’s Christmas dinner – a 7 year old Labrador devoured a block of stilton, an entire pack of six Mince Pies, a Christmas Pudding and a box of chocolates, all in one sitting.
· A 13 year old Jack Russell managed to glue his mouth shut after scoffing a Christmas cracker and toy playing cards, inadvertently making a papier-mâché – it really was a silent night.
· Intrigued by the twinkling fairly lights, a one year old kitten ascended the Christmas tree to see if these sparkly objects were in fact new toys, unfortunately she ended up with scorched paws, a burnt tongue and consequently no Christmas dinner.
· Emergency surgery had to be performed on a 5 year old Cocker Spaniel after it ingested an entire bath towel which was wrapped round a turkey. Luckily, the spaniel made a full recovery, but the veterinary surgeon is still left wondering why the turkey was wrapped in a bath towel!
· Cats can be clumsy, as one cat proved last Christmas when he knocked over a snow globe, and either curious to have a taste, or just trying to clear up the mess he made, the cat ingested some of the liquid inside, resulting in a very poorly pet and an emergency trip to the vets.
Thanks to prompt action of the pet owners and the emergency service provided by Vets Now, all these pets made a full recovery.
However, Vets Now is advising pet owners to be mindful of the increased risk of illness or injury when treats and trinkets are in abundance over the festive period. Dozens of human foods are dangerous for dogs, with some of the most common being chocolate, macadamia nuts, and grapes and raisins. Others include alcohol, caffeine, onions, garlic, and anything high in salt or fat.
The top ten Christmas hazards for pets lurking in our festive fancies and freshly decorated homes include:
· Chocolate – Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, a bit like caffeine, that’s severely poisonous to cats and dogs
· Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings – all grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are toxic to dogs; as are foods that contain them
· Blue Cheese – it contains a substance called roquefortine C which dogs are extremely sensitive to
· Tinsel – dogs eat tinsel like we eat spaghetti causing dangerous blockages in their stomachs
· Macadamia nuts – often found in cookies, or food ingredients or just as a Christmas snack. These nuts cause severe illness in dogs.
· Garlic, chives and onion are found in many foods such as gravy, stuffing and sausages. All Allium species are poisonous to dogs
· Snow Globes – imported versions can contain antifreeze, as little as one tablespoon can be fatal for a cat
· Candles – they can burn paws and the curious noses of our furry friends, and fall over when brushed against
· Fairy Lights – cats are curious and will try to chew on anything, including fairy lights that can burn them and wires which can electrocute them
· Alcohol – this can cause severe liver and brain damage. As little as a tablespoon can lead to problems for your cat or dog
Of the most common emergencies seen at Christmas, the ingestion of these festive items makes up 62% of Vets Now cases; demonstrating a very real and totally preventable risk, as nine in 10 poisonings actually happen whilst the pet is in their own home, and a shocking, 5.5m of dog owners unknowingly feed their pets these harmful foods at Christmas.
However, Vets Now also was warns that simply giving your pet too many treats as per of your Christmas family celebrations can also be dangerous. Many pets are seen out of hours each Christmas with illness due to over indulgence of Christmas treats like chews and doggy chocs. Everything in moderation!
Vets Now has also revealed that 48% of pet owners do not actually know what to do when they are faced with an incident.
Dave continued: ‘Some local vet practices choose to close over the Christmas period to ensure their veterinary teams have the breaks they deserve, so it’s essential you’re aware of what to do when faced with a pet emergency, especially when it’s out of hours or your vet is closed for the festive holidays.
‘Whilst we are always here to give your pets the best possible care in the event of an emergency, we would like to help in any way we can to prevent these emergencies from ever happening in the first place.’
To inform and engage families Vets Now has details on how to deal with a Christmas emergency, www.vets-now.com/Christmas ensuring the whole family can enjoy a safe and happy Christmas.