15 ways to help your pet have a Happy Christmas

3rd December 2016


1. Overeating - a big problem

We all do it at Christmas. We eat far more than we need, and end up feeling stuffed and bloated. Our pets are just as easily tempted, and if offered too many trimmings and leftovers, they’re prone to all sorts of troubles. Some of the consequences we see at Bollington include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea – sudden changes in diet are very likely to cause a digestive upset, with messy consequences.
  • Pancreatitis – high fat food for many cats and dogs will irritate the pancreas and cause serious problems.


2. Exercise - let all do more

We all seem to be busy over the holiday period. Some of us travelling the length and breadth of the country visiting family, whilst others preparing the house for visitors whilst cooking and entertaining. The lack of time in our busy schedules will inevitably mean that our canine friends exercise times become less frequent. Boredom, stiffness and weight gain are the obvious consequences.

‘Find time each day to stick to your pet’s normal daily exercise’


3. Beware of bones

Pork chop bones are easily swallowed but can often get stuck, causing a serious obstruction. Chicken and turkey bones are razor sharp, and can cut gums and the intestines. It’s best to avoid bones altogether.


4. No chocolate

This is one of the more common poisonings seen at Bollington Veterinary Centre in dogs at this time of year. It is also toxic to cats and rabbits, so beware.

The toxic ingredients are Theobromine and caffeine, which cause overstimulation of the central nervous system and heart muscles.

Dark chocolate is more dangerous as the levels of Theobromine are higher.

Signs of toxicity include restlessness, anxiousness, pacing, panting, excessive drinking and incontinence.

If you find your dog with any of these signs or know that your dog has eaten chocolate, contact us immediately. The sooner we see them the more likely we can help.


Contact us if your dog has eaten chocolate



5. Avoid grapes, raisins and currants

These have all been linked to kidney failure in some unlucky dogs.  It doesn’t matter if they are eaten raw or cooked, as they are still potentially very poisonous. Never let your dog eat them, it’s just too risky.

At Christmas they can be hidden in all sorts of foods such as mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, cakes and muesli bars, so beware.


6. No onions, garlic, leeks or chives

These can pose a particular risk to cats and dogs and can cause a serious form of anaemia as a result of red blood cells being broken down. Even small quantities can be dangerous.


7. Xylitol - the sugar substitute

Hidden in so many foods, it’s a particular problem for dogs as it stimulates the release of insulin. This can cause a variety of signs relating to low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia. The signs to look out for include lethargy, weakness, incoordination, collapse and in extreme cases, seizures.

This sweetener is found in all sorts of food products as well as some toothpaste, so make sure you take a look at the labels.


8. Macadamia nuts

These are popular, healthy and taste delicious. However in recent years there have been several cases of poisoning in dogs. Look for weakness, vomiting, tummy pain, shaking, pale gums and incoordination.

Whilst macadamia nuts aren’t fatal, it’s best to keep them out of reach incase your dog eats them.


9. Hops and beer

If you’re into home brewing, keep those hops out of the way. If eaten, they can cause anxiety, rapid heart rate, abdominal pain and even seizures.


10. Avoid avocados

These fruits are readily available at great prices these days, and therefore much more likely to be in our kitchens. The down side is the fruit is toxic to birds, so if you have a pet parrot that is allowed to roam around the home, keep them of limits.

The large stones are very dangerous if chewed and swallowed by dogs as they can become lodged in the intestines.


11. Chewing hazards are everywhere

  • Keep all electric cords and lights out of reach from your dog.
  • Keep the kitchen door closed when you’re not around.
  • Don’t leave food presents under the Christmas tree.
  • Don’t dangle chocolate decorations on the tree.


12. Houseplants are often poisonous

Lilies, Mistletoe, Holly, Ivy, Poinsettia and Daffodils are all a risk. If you are at any stage worried that your pet has eaten something poisonous, call us.


13. Tinsel, Ribbon and Baubles

Ribbons, wrapping paper, tinsel and a wide variety of gifts will be so appealing to many inquisitive or bored animals in the home. The trouble is they can be very dangerous if swallowed. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we’ve encountered many a problem during the winter holidays as a result of these items being chewed or eaten. Many of them can block the small intestines with devastating consequences. If we’re lucky we can remove it, but there are times when the damage can be irreversible.

If you think your pet may have eaten any of these items, call us on 01625 573375 and we can check things out.

Look for these signs – a foreign body will cause vomiting, inappetence, lethargy and abdominal pain.


14. Christmas lights

The flashing lights on the tree can be irresistible to cats and puppies, so take extreme care. Luckily these days the power supply is much safer than in days gone by, but the risks of chewing electrical wires is still present and significant. It pays to keep the wires safely tied out of sight, and if possible prevent access to the tree.

Our top tips with lights

  • Never leave your pet unattended in a room with Christmas lights.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of interest – teeth marks in the wire, chewing or frayed wires.
  • Call us immediately if you think your pet may have been electrocuted.


15. Noise and disruption is a stress

All those extra visitors coming in and out of the house pose quite a problem at Christmas.

Watch out for signs of stress

  • Panting and shaking
  • Hiding away
  • Ears down
  • Not eating properly
  • Barking
  • Urinating or defecating in the house

Provide a quiet place to hide

Many dogs, cats and rabbits will appreciate their home or bed being moved to a quiet part of the house. A cage with a blanked over the top will often make them feel safe and secure.