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The Twelve Dangers of Christmas

author: By Esme Campbell BVetMed MRCVS - 24 November 2021

Have fun with your pets over the festive period, but please be aware that there are plenty of exciting (but potentially dangerous) things for pets to get their paws on! The list below is not exhaustive, but delves into some of the lesser-known dangers of Christmas time…

1. Rich and fatty foods

Can cause gastrointestinal upsets, and in severe cases pancreatitis – a painful condition which may require hospitalisation for pain relief and fluids.

2. Bones

Potential to cause intestinal obstruction, constipation orbowel perforation. Keep cooked meats away from the edge of the kitchen counter and dispose of bonespromptly in the outside bin. 

3. Tinsel, ribbon, string

Can cause a “linear foreign body where intestine bunches up like a drawstring, compromising the blood supply and sometimes causing perforation of the bowel

4. Decorations

Baubles may be mistaken for a ball, and cause damage to the mouth or gut. Consumption of salt dough ornaments may cause salt toxicosis, signs of which are vomiting, diarrhoea and seizures. Some snow globes contain anti-freeze which can be fatal.

5. Grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants

Can cause damage to the kidneys. The toxin is not dose dependent, meaning a small quantity may be serious.This includes cooked versions, e.g. mince pies and Christmas cake.

6. Macadamia nuts

Can cause lethargy, tremors, and increased body temperature. Other nuts may only cause mild tummyupsets – but watch out for fruit and nut mixes (see above).

7. Artificial sweeteners e.g. Xylitol 

Xylitol can be found in sugar-free sweets, chewing gum and other sweet treats. Ingestion can lead to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia and liver damage. 


8. Poisonous plants

Ingestion of any part of the lily plant (including grooming pollen from the fur) can cause fatal acute kidney injury. Others such as poinsettia, mistletoe, holly and pine needles can cause drooling and mild tummy upsets

9. Batteries 

Punctured batteries can result in chemical burns/ulceration to exposed tissueButton batteries can pass an electric current through tissues without being punctured, which can result in severe ulceration within 15-30minutes of contact.

10. Mouldy food 

Mycotoxins in spoiled foods can cause tremors and even seizures. Blue cheese is strictly for humans only, as the mould can cause vomitingdiarrhoea and seizures in dogs.

11. Onions and garlic (e.g. stuffing and gravy)

Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives can cause damage to red blood cells resulting in anaemia, which may not be apparent until several days after ingestion. Signs of this include lethargy, weakness and pale gums. 

12. Fairy lights/cables 

May cause electric shocks if chewed, which can cause ulceration in the mouth plus other serious complications such as pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lungs).  

We wish you a safe and merry Christmas, with love from all the staff at Bishop, Hendry & Edwards

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