How to keep your pet out the vet this Christmas

Vets see 70% more emergency cases around Christmas and New Year.

It’s one of the last places you want to end up at Christmas but emergency trips to the vet during the festive season are sadly common.

A third of pet owners will end up needing assistance and vets up and down the country are bracing themselves for the Christmas and New Year rush.

Vets Now in Glasgow is one of the UK’s leading 24-hour pet hospitals. Staff say they see as much as 70% more cases around Christmas and New Year.

“The Christmas festive period unfortunately has some very tempting treats for our animals and there are a lot of opportunities for them to get into trouble,” said Tobias Grave, a specialist emergency and critical care vet for Vets Now.

“They are there when chocolates are lying around and they also try and investigate what the Christmas tree looks like – close up or being in it!”

Christmas tree related injuries are common and with treats in abundance over the festive season, Vets Now received more than 200 calls about chocolate poisoning cases on Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year. 

Across December 2018, emergency vets also treated 364 dogs that had eaten mince pies, up 102% on the previous year.

A lot of festive foods are dangerous for dogs, the most common being chocolate but also grapes and blue cheese, raisins, mince pies, Christmas cake and of course alcohol.

Other foods that could see you spending your Christmas in the pet emergency room include xylitol (a common sugar substitute), caffeine, onions, garlic and anything high in salt or fat – so be careful with things like Christmas stuffing and gravy and artificially sweetened treats.

Dogs and cats also eat tinsel which can cause dangerous internal blockages.

‘We are prepared and ready to help this Christmas, but we would rather not see your pet in the emergency room.’

Tobias Grave, Vets Now.

Vets have also seen injury from the anti-freeze in snow globes, burns from fairy lights and toy batteries and sore tummies from eating wrapping paper.

The team in Glasgow have already stockpiled medicine and have extra staffing in place for a potential Christmas rush in patients.

But prevention, they say, is always better than a cure. They’re hoping pet owners will take their advice.

“If we prevent 50% of the emergencies over Christmas we would be happy,” said Mr Grave.“If nobody would get into trouble then we would be even happier, but this is the way of life that there will always be somebody who eats something he shouldn’t!

“We are prepared and ready to help this Christmas, but we would rather not see your pet in the emergency room.”

If your pet has ingested something potentially harmful such as chocolate, grapes or raisins you should contact an emergency vet as soon as possible.

When calling, try to have a note of the toxin’s name, strength and the amount your pet has ingested or been exposed to.

It would also be handy to give the vet your pet’s approximate weight so the vet emergency team can be as prepared as possible to receive you.

Ten Christmas hazards pet owners should be aware of

Tinsel and lametta – dogs eat tinsel like we eat spaghetti and cats find lametta fascinating and may eat it causing dangerous blockages in their intestines

Salt Dough Ornaments – the mix of flour and salt with water can cause a potentially fatal salt toxicosis if ingested by your pet

Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy – these are all mildly toxic to both cats and dogs

Lilies – those from the Lilium or Hemerocallis species — are very dangerous for cats. Eating any quantity of any part of the plant, or even drinking water from a vase containing them can be potentially fatal

Wrapping Paper – while toxicity is low, eating a large amount of paper could cause an obstruction in the stomach

Snow Globes – imported versions can contain antifreeze, as little as one tablespoon can be fatal for a cat

Candles – they can burn paws and the curious noses of our furry friends and fall over when brushed against

Fairy Lights – cats are curious and will try to chew on anything, including fairy lights that can burn them and wires which can electrocute them

Batteries – from gadgets or children’s toys can cause serious internal burns if swallowed by pets.

Festive fireworks – Fireworks are commonly used in the run up to New Year and lots of pets suffer from a fear of fireworks. 

However, it doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dog at all this season – there are plenty of treats out there which are specially designed for pets.

Have a paw-some Christmas with your furry friends!