Clare Champion dog, Daisy, would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas. She has also issued a warning that this time of year can be hazardous for pets, so keep an eye on them. Chocolates and some fruits, including grapes, are very harmful to dogs, so they should be supervised at all times.
Most of us are planning Christmas dinner and, next to gifts, food and drink play a huge part in our celebrations. But just as we should be careful not to over-indulge, we need to make sure our pets are looked after as well.
Coffee, hot chocolate and caffeine products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cocoa seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some fizzy drinks. When ingested by pets, these can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, panting, excessive hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and sometimes, in excessive amounts, even death.
Chocolate is harmful for pets, especially dogs. Theobromine is a methylxanthine found in chocolate, so try to stop the kids giving chocolate to pets; perhaps have a pet-only treat box or a pet advent calendar with appropriate food.
Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate, white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, but baking chocolate contains the highest.
Be careful with sage, a common herb used in stuffing, as cats are especially sensitive to this herb and it can cause stomach upset and central nervous system problems.
Alcohol and food containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and even death, so it’s pretty dangerous to give alcohol to a well-loved pet.
Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. It may even be fatal.
Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many sweets and biscuits. However, they can cause problems for your dog. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure and in pets who already have certain health problems, symptoms may be more dramatic.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products and it can lead to liver failure and lowered blood sugar levels. Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy, a loss of co-ordination and seizures, so check labels carefully for xylitol.
Onions, garlic and chives can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk, if a large enough amount is consumed.
Cooked bones and corn cobs can also be a problem, as cooking makes the bones brittle. They commonly cause blockages in the gut and could mean an emergency trip to the vet for surgery.
Too much sugar can give your pet a belly-ache but, worse, if wrappers are swallowed, your pet risks tearing or blocking the intestines. Clean up as best and frequently as you can when sweets are being unwrapped and dispose of aluminium foil, plastic wrapping and wax paper. Also look out for tooth picks, skewers and cooked bones.
Remember the wildlife however, so dispose of rubbish carefully. Cut plastic can rings and double-wrap the cooked turkey and meat bones.
Wildlife finds it hard to get through a bad winter without the added challenge of getting sick because of getting injured by our rubbish.