St Anne’s Veterinary Group in Eastbourne is urging pet owners to watch out for potential hazards to their pets this Christmas.
Findings released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal that a Nativity display, anti-freeze and £200 in £20 notes were just some of the items that landed animals in veterinary practices over the 2014 festive period.
In the South East, 82 per cent of vets saw at least one case of toxic ingestion in pets during Christmas 2014, according to findings from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey.
Across the UK, chocolate poisoning in dogs was the most common toxic ingestion case. However a quarter of vets also treated cats for dangerous anti-freeze poisoning and one in 10 vets saw dogs that had eaten Christmas decorations.
Menna Field, Registered Veterinary Nurse from St Anne’s Veterinary Group, said, “We unfortunately see several toxicity cases each Christmas, mostly consisting of chocolate poisoning, alcohol and eating things like fruit cake and mince pies. Many people don’t realise how serious these cases can be if not treated. There are also things that are labelled poisonous which aren’t too serious like the Poinsettia which will cause a gastric upset and salivating but usually doesn’t require treatment.
“Also people worry about animals eating the little silica sachets that are often in presents to absorb moisture and are usually labelled DO NOT EAT. These are of low toxicity and mostly don’t require treatment unless the owners are worried. Many plants and household products are featured on my Facebook page ‘Animal Poison Information’. Always call your vet with the details of what your pet has eaten and we can advise you on what, if anything, needs to be done.”
BVA President Sean Wensley said, “Christmas is typically a fun and chaotic time, with lots of presents and treats suddenly arriving in our homes. Many pet owners are aware of the risks of chocolate poisoning to their pets but it’s easy to accidentally leave something tempting lying around. Our results are a cautionary tale about the range of potential hazards around your home at this time of year and owners should be very aware that tasty treats, interesting decorations and new plants can be hard for curious animals to resist. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t then don’t delay consulting your local vet.”
Last Christmas almost one in five vets saw dogs that had eaten a non-edible gift given to them by their owner. BVA’s survey shows the most commonly reported cases of toxic and foreign body ingestion for dogs last year were:
Chocolate poisoning (seen by 69 per cent of vets)
Raisins/sultanas (45 per cent)
Christmas decorations (10 per cent)
Vets also treated large numbers of cats who had ingested toxic and foreign bodies last Christmas. The most common were:
Anti-freeze (seen by 24 per cent of vets)
Seasonal plants, such as poinsettia (12 per cent)
Christmas decorations (6 per cent)
To keep Christmas merry for the whole household, local vets are urging animal-lovers to ensure their home is safe for four-legged friends by following these five simple tips:
1. Protect your pet from poisons – a number of festive treats and traditions, such as chocolate, raisins, xylitol (found in sugar free treats), nuts, grapes, liquorice, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are toxic to cats and dogs.
2. Keep decorations out of reach – ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can all prove irresistible to cats and dogs but can be very dangerous if broken, chewed or swallowed. Batteries for Christmas gifts also need to be kept safe as, if ingested, they may cause severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach.
3. Forget festive food for pets – we all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas, but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn’t be shared. They can trigger indigestion, sickness and diarrhoea or even conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis, so try to stick to your pet’s regular diet and routine. Turkey bones should not be given to pets as they can splinter and puncture the digestive tract.
4. Give toys not treats – we all want our pets to share the fun and many of us include a gift for our pet on the shopping list. But too many treats can lead to fat, unhappy animals so consider opting for a new toy, or a long walk if you want to indulge your pet this Christmas.
5. Know where to go – even with all the care in the world, animal accidents and emergencies can still happen. Make sure you’re prepared by checking your vet’s emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours or, if you are away from home, use the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Find a Vet facility at http://www.findavet.org.uk/
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