Christmas food is often a major part of the celebrations but did you know that many of our Christmas favourites are toxic to our pets?  Be aware of the dangers and keep you pets safe this Christmas to avoid heartache and worry over the festive season.

Chocolate can be found everywhere at Christmas, from Advent calendars and tree decorations, to presents wrapped up under the tree.  It can be very toxic to cats and dogs, causing heart problems, seizures and in severe cases can be fatal.  The level of toxicity depends on the cocoa content of the chocolate and your pet’s size.  If you think your pet has eaten any chocolate, call a vet immediately with as much detail as you can regarding the amount eaten as soon as possible.  They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.  Some dogs will eat the wrappers along with the chocolate and these also carry the risk of obstructing the intestines.  Keep all chocolate well away from your pet!

Dried grapes are ubiquitous in Christmas food, being found in large quantities in mince pies, Christmas pudding or Christmas cake, but also in smaller quantities in other foods such as Panettone.  They can be highly toxic, causing kidney failure.  Unfortunately, unlike chocolate, even very small quantities can potentially cause problems and be the time the sign of issues develops, it is often too late to start treatment.  Call a vet as soon as you are aware that your pet may have eaten any of these and follow their advice.

Feeding your pet bones can cause all sorts of problems, from tooth fractures, to obstruction or perforation of the stomach or intestines.  Cooked bones are a particular danger as they tend to splinter, causing sharp edges, but any bones can pose a risk.  Make sure that all turkey carcasses are well away from your pet as they are a particular temptation.  If your pet has eaten any bones, keep a really careful eye on them for any signs of illness (e.g. vomiting, off food, lethargy, hunched appearance or looking at their stomach) and seek veterinary advice as soon as possible if you see any of these signs.

Overindulgence is many peoples’ idea of a good Christmas but letting our pets overindulge can be a messy business indeed.  Any sudden change in diet can cause an upset stomach and in some cases, a sudden increase in fat content of the diet can lead to an extremely painful episode of pancreatitis.  If you do not want to be having to clear up large quantities of vomit and diarrhoea over the festive period (and let’s be honest, who does?!), try to keep your pet’s diet as consistent as possible and avoid the temptation to give them leftovers from Christmas dinner.

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