Christmas is the time to indulge, celebrate and have fun and as part of the family, our dogs will normally be enjoying some of the action too. But the festive season also presents a world of hidden dangers from toxic foods to dangerous seasonal plants.
Chocolate – Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs. Darker chocolate will contain more theobromine and is more poisonous than white chocolate but white chocolate is still very fatty and can still make your dog very ill.
Chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but it is a stimulant and so can lead to your dog becoming excitable, as well as developing muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life threatening problems with their heart. Severe cases can be fatal.
Over the Christmas period make sure all chocolate is out of reach of your dog, this includes chocolate coins hung from your Christmas tree, advent calenders, boxes of chocolate put out on Christmas Day.
Raisins, grapes, currants and sultanas – Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are all toxic to dogs and it is believed the dried forms of these fruits are more toxic than grapes. At this time of year, it it therefore important that all foods contain these fruits be kept away from your dog; these include Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, mince pies, stolen and especially chocolate covered raisins.
As well as possibly causing vomiting and diarrhoea, these fruits can cause kidney failure, which can sometimes be delayed for 24 to 72 hours. Kidney failure may sometimes present as a decrease in urination, your dog may also appear dull, or show signs of increased thirst.
Plants – Poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, Ivy and Christmas trees are all toxic to dogs. Poinsettia can cause excessive salivation and sometimes vomiting. Holly is considered to be low toxicity, but the spikey leaves may cause physical damage if eaten, and the berries can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Mistletoe is also considered to be low toxicity, but the berries may cause a tummy upset if eaten. Ivy may cause a tummy upset if eaten, while substantial or prolonged skin contact may cause severe irritation, or an allergic contact dermatitis. Christmas trees are of low toxicity, but oils from the needles may be irritating to the mouth and stomach, causing excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhoea if chewed. Needles from these trees are sharp and can cause physical injuries. Tinsel, ornaments and Christmas tree lights may be enticing to your dog and may appear to be great toys, but they can cause an obstruction, or even gastric rupture if sharp, spikey or easily breakable. Christmas tree lights also may cause and electric shock if chewed.
Antifreeze – Care should be taken when using antifreeze products, which may contain the chemical ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol can be lethal when ingested and its sweet taste may take it tempting for dogs and cats. Antifreeze should therefore be stored in secure containers away from pets. If using antifreeze, make sure your pets are kept well away and if any spills, ensure that is its cleaned up. Effects of poisoning may initially appear as vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and appearing drunk. If untreated they may appear to recover, but this may be followed by kidney failure. Prompt treatment is important. If your dog or cat does drink or lick any amount contact us immediately.
If you are concerned about your pet over the Christmas period please do not hesitate to contact any of our four surgeries.
All of us at the Warren House Veterinary Group wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!