December 2018: Vet's Advice

November 27 2018

Pets in peril as the festive season draws nearer

Christmas is getting closer and people are often very busy with all sorts of activities at home, work and school. This is an exciting time and for most pet owners an emergency trip to the vet might be the last thing they would anticipate during the Christmas season. Many apparently harmless foods and other items can potentially be dangerous for our pets.

We are often keen to share the celebrations with our pets but many of our Christmas traditions are unsuitable for our four-legged friends.

You probably will have a Christmas tree which your dog or cat may be attracted to, especially the young puppies and kittens. The bright lights and dangling baubles are just too hard to resist for some. Chewing the tree, its ornaments and tinsel and swallowing pieces can cause a nasty tummy upset or even an obstruction requiring surgery, so you may have to supervise your pet with the tree and decorations.

The cables for electric lights are a huge hazard and can be very tempting to the inquisitive puppy or house bunny. Keep the cables insulated, covered and out of reach from pets to prevent burns or electrocution. 

'Plants like Poinsettias and Amaryllis are popular at Christmas, but they are not just appealing to humans; many dogs and cats will find these plants irresistible too.  It’s therefore important these plants are kept out of reach, because they are poisonous and can cause mouth or stomach irritation from just eating a small part of the plant.  Mistletoe can also be dangerous; the berries, in particular, can be even more toxic than poinsettias. Keep your wrapped presents, especially edible ones in a secure pet free area. You don’t want your pet to rip everything open before Santa arrives.


Most households have plenty of food and sweet goodies around during the festive season and it is easy for people to forget that pets might help themselves.

It is relatively well known that chocolate is poisonous but less widely known that raisins, sultanas and currants (and the grapes they come from) in our Christmas cake and pudding can be deadly for animals too. A relatively small amount of grape products can cause kidney failure and it is difficult to predict how much is a problem as susceptibility seems to vary. 

At Christmas time we are tempted to share our Christmas dinner with our pets but choose carefully what to give. Cooked bones can be a problem if eaten, especially turkey and chicken bones. The bones can splinter and cause damage to the gut or become lodged inside. String from the meat joint can also be consumed so it is important to dispose of the carcass carefully and pet proof your rubbish bin. Onions and garlic can be toxic and rich fatty foods and left overs that the pet is not used to can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

If Santa usually visits the pets in your household what would they put on their wish list? Food items probably come top! How about a warm coat for the wintry weather? A light up collar for those dark dawn walks? Cat nip toys for that legal high? If old bones are getting a bit creaky, how about an orthopaedic pet bed or pet physiotherapy session? 


However you chose to celebrate this year, the staff at Avenue Veterinary Centre would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your furry and feathered friends a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.