10 Christmas Hazards You Should Be Aware Of
Hazards for pets to be aware of this Christmas. Whilst we love a little festivity, it can be a very dangerous time for our pets. A lot of tempting and very poisonous treats are around and pet owners need to be aware of the dangers surrounding them.
Chocolate can be very tasty to our pets but it can be very dangerous as it contains theobromine, a stimulant which is poisonous to both cats and dogs.
The toxin in chocolate can have adverse effects on both the heart and muscle. Furthermore, it can cause irregular heart rhythms, gastrointestinal upset and in some circumstances death from cardiac arrest, especially if a large amount is consumed and no treatment given. Darker chocolate and the more bitter it is the more dangerous.
If a dog has eaten chocolate, it should be safe it has eaten less than 14g/kg of its body weight in milk chocolate [so 80g for a 20kg dog like a Border Collie]. Dark chocolate contains more theobromine and only 3.5g/kg would be safe [so 70g of a good dark chocolate]. White chocolate, however, does not contain the same toxin.
Keep chocolates, especially in stockings well out of the way of your dog’s reach. It’s not just the chocolate which is dangerous, as the foil it is wrapped in can also cause other problematic issues if swallowed.
Signs to watch out for are; hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive drinking and urinating.
2) Mince Pies & Christmas Pudding
In dogs, grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants can cause sudden kidney failure. Therefore no mince pies or Christmas puddings for your pet. The kidney failure can develop between 1 and 3 days later. This is not dose related so any grapes, currants, raisins or sultanas can be toxic
Signs to watch out for are; increased thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, vomiting, being lethargic. Early treatment is essential to help with recovery. Just one or two of these can make your dog seriously ill.
In addition, often these types of food can contain alcohol and are high in fat which can lead to other health issues for dogs.
3) Blue Cheese
Whilst many of us like our cheese and crackers at Christmas. Blue cheese contains a neurotoxin substance called roquefortine C. This can cause hyperthermia, salivation, vomiting, wobbliness, fast heart, tremors, and seizures. These signs may begin within 1 to 2 hours of exposure or be delayed for several hours.
4) Christmas Trees & Tinsel
Christmas trees, tinsel and decorations can all cause intestinal blockages. Please try and keep your dog away from these, especially if they like to chew.
Signs include; increased salivation, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and oral ulcers. Often these can be immediate however they can happen up to a day after consumption.
Once a joint of meat is cooked, the bones become more brittle, which can lead to them splintering. In turn, this makes it easier for fragments to become stuck and cause obstruction. Very small pieces can cause irritation of the gut and even perforation. Ensure you keep all carcases in a sealed bin away from temptation. Under no circumstances give a dog a cooked bone from any type of birds, such as turkey, chicken or goose. These will most certainly splinter and can be very dangerous for dogs.
6) Macadamia Nuts & Salted Peanuts
Macadamia and salted peanuts have been associated with poisoning affecting the neurologic system. Signs that a dog has been affected are; difficulty walking and abnormal behaviour. Further symptoms include weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia.
Early treatment is important, to prevent and progression to a coma or even death. For dogs which have consumed any of these products or is experiencing any of the above symptoms please contact your vet immediately.
7) Onions, Garlic & Chives
Onions, garlic and chives are toxic to both dogs and cats. They can cause serious damage to the red blood cells, causing them to break up. Generally, this happens 2 to 3 days after ingestion and results in anaemia.
Signs include pale gums, increased rate of breathing, dark urine, increased heart rate. It is essential you visit your vet as soon as the ingestion occurs, otherwise, this can end up a life-threatening condition.
Radiator antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is a toxin which affects the nervous system, gastrointestinal system and can cause kidney failure. Many imported versions of snow globes also can contain antifreeze, therefore if one is broken be aware as just one teaspoon can be fatal for a cat.
Signs occur quite soon after ingestion. They include: wobbliness and difficulty walking early on, then weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea. Emergency treatment as soon as possible is essential with this toxin as irreversible kidney damage an occur quite. This is one of the more common poisons in cats.
Although they create a lovely cosy atmosphere at Christmas, candle flames can burn paws, and often our curious furry friends can end up getting their tails burnt brushing against them. Ensure you keep your candles away from pets.
Alcohol can cause very severe liver and brain damage in animals. Never give your pet alcohol, even just a tablespoon can lead to problems for both cats and dogs.
Finally, if you have any other concerns about these or other Christmas toxicities which could affect your pet, please speak to your local vet.
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