Christmas Toxins

  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.

Substances which can be poisonous to pets include:

  • Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
  • Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake recipes)
  • Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
  • Xylitol-sweetened foods
  • Onions, avocados and grapes
  • Alcohol
  • Plants including lilies (and daffodils)
  • Cleaning and DIY products such as white spirit and lubricating oils
  • Car anti-freeze
  • Human medicines

Substances with low toxicity that could cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea include

  • Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
  • Charcoal and coal
  • Cut-flower and houseplant food
  • Expanded polystyrene foam (used for large present packing
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia (common Christmas plants/decorations)
  • Matches
  • Wax candles and crayons
  • Silica gel (found in packaging)
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