How to avoid a trip to the vet this Christmas

Posted by Heather on 10/12/2018

The festive period can be a great time for all the family including our furry family but it is also the time when pets really do prove that they can get into anything.  According to the British Veterinary Association 81% of vets saw a pet that had eaten something they shouldn’t have over the Christmas period in 2016. 


Chocolate isn’t the only food hazard to be aware of.


When we think of pets eating things that cause harm, we often think of dogs eating chocolate.  While this is the most common poisoning that vets see, and chocolate will be in plentiful supply over Christmas, there are lots of other hazards we also need to consider that are abundant in our homes over the festive period.  For example, raisins and sultanas, which are plentiful in Christmas puddings, are toxic to dogs.  A gift of a beautiful bunch of Lilies can be toxic to cats and other festive plants around the house such as mistletoe and Ivy are mildly toxic to our pets. A bowl of macadamia nuts left out to snack on for the humans is a danger to your dog if ingested.  And then there is the alcohol.  An inquisitive (or greedy) pet will investigate the drink left on a low table or the spillage on the floor and pets are far more susceptible to adverse effects of alcohol. 


Temptation can lead to paying the ultimate price.


Tinsel, baubels and wrapping paper can look like a fun toy to play with for pets, but this can lead to ingestion of bits or the whole lot of it which may cause a life-threatening blockage.  In the excitement of presents it is easy to leave new toys lying around which can also be a temptation to dogs to have a quick chew.  Ingestion of batteries can cause serious life-threatening problems.  While this is just a small list of potential hazards and there are many more we need to be aware of, it highlights the extra perils that the festive period can hold for inquisitive pets. 


Overindulgence is a problem for pets as well as humans at this time of year.  


Over 60% of vets (British Veterinary Association 2016) think that pet obesity is the biggest health and welfare concern for pets.  Giving extra treats over the festive period could be doing your pet much more harm than good and serious overindulgence by pets can lead to digestive problems. 


Emergency calls and visits to veterinary practices increase over the festive period which is certainly no fun for your pet or you.  The best way to have a happy and safe festive period for the whole family is to prepare and keep hazards away from pets to avoid unexpected trips to the vets. 


5 easy tips for helping to protect inquisitive pets from festive harm.


  1. Know your poisons.  Be aware of what is poisonous to your pets and if in any doubt keep human foods and things away from pets.

  2. Out of reach.  Put things out of reach.  This includes edible presents.  Presents of food under the tree are a great snack for a dog who won’t care if the wrapping is still on.  Make sure you know what presents are being put under the tree and keep food away. 

  3. Time and toys rather than treats.  Pets love being with their human family so to show your love avoid the extra treats and take them for extra walks or play with pet friendly toys instead.

  4. Be prepared.  Know how to contact your local veterinary practice in case of emergency and where to go.

  5. Give them some space.  While humans may love a busy festive period with friends and family sometimes lots of noise, people and change can be stressful for pets so make sure that your pets have a quiet place to go and be aware of their needs.