How to keep your vet happy at Christmas

Our pets can get ill any day of the year and Christmas is no exception.

There are, however, some things you can do to reduce the chance of a preventable visit to the vets over the festive period.

Christmas-related incidents often involve the dog or cat having eaten something inappropriate.

A run-down of some common offenders to Keep Away from the 4-footed friends (this list is by no means exhaustive):

Chocolate…… White chocolate is harmless, a super-cheap milk chocolate coin off the tree is unlikely to cause bother, but dark chocolate can be deadly. If the dog manages to get its paws on your chocolate stash, the safest is to phone the vet straight away, ideally with information about % cocoa, weight of the dog, amount consumed, and how long ago it happened.

Mince pies/ Christmas cake/pudding – These all contain vine fruits. For some dogs, raisins are extremely toxic, causing kidney failure. The toxic principle is still not understood – so, safest is to avoid these types of product.

Cooked turkey bones – These can perforate the intestine.

String from the joint of meat/ present-wrapping ribbon – Some cats seem to really like eating string. It can cause the intestine to concertina, and cheese-wire through the gut wall – potential catastrophe.

Toothpicks/ Cocktail sticks/ Kebab sticks – Utterly lethal, these pierce through the stomach and intestine, causing multiple perforations and sepsis. The intact stick in the picture was passed by a very lucky dog – who had climbed onto the table to steal it.

Batteries – particularly remote-control and hearing-aid type ones – so easy to chew or swallow…. these contain zinc, nickel, and rather corrosive chemicals… cue mouth and oesophageal burns.

Bin-raiding obviously provides more access to the items mentioned above. Also, food can be rotting – adding vomiting, diarrhoea, and mycotoxin (from mould) intoxication to the list of misfortunes.

Hangover medicationsParacetamol is super poisonous to cats, and ibuprofen can cause kidney failure in dogs – keep out of reach.

Fairy lights, and pets that like to chew everything in sight, are a really poor combination. Yesterday, Timmy the cat got 220volts. He sustained electrical burns to the mouth but was otherwise OK. Luckily his owner was there to pull out the plug, or the outcome would have been fatal.

Tin foil – Usually goes in one end and comes out the other, with some uncomfortable scraping on the way. Not horribly dangerous, but not nice and neither is the associated malaise and diarrhoea.

Poinsettia – This Christmas plant can be irritant to cats when eaten. Happily, the vomiting and dribbling that it causes usually goes away quickly, by itself, without treatment.

If you know your pet has eaten something dodgy, please don’t wait until it is waving a white flag before phoning for help. Many things are fixable if treated in a timely fashion.

Have a safe and happy Christmas. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than 2020!!

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