It’s all too quickly come around to the season to be jolly again, when our cupboards become full of treats and food gets enjoyed a little more than normal…Sadly, though, this means more temptation for our pets too! This article will run through the main things to be ultra-cautious of and why at this time of year.
The main festive nemesis for our pets is chocolate, particularly dogs. Chocolate contains a compound similar to caffeine called theobromine, which is a toxic stimulant. The darker the chocolate/cocoa, and the smaller your pet, the more dangerous it is! It affects the cardiovascular, neurological and gastrointestinal systems and signs start within 4-24 hours. Mild toxicity causes vomiting and diarrhoea (with a distinctive chocolate smell…), with signs progressing to trembling, rigid muscles, drooling and feeling your pet’s heart racing in severe cases. In the worst scenarios, seizuring and even fatality can occur so it is essential to check your pets if you suspect they have got into the Celebrations! If seen within the first 30-60 minutes, like with the rest of the toxins below, we can give an injection to make your animal vomit to prevent absorption of the toxin. If symptoms have already begun, however, we recommend hospitalisation for medication and fluid therapy support. If seen promptly and treated accordingly, the prognosis is good!
Mince pies and Christmas pudding also pose a big risk to our greedy pets due to their high content of raisins and sultanas. Even one raisin can be dangerous so it is imperative to get your pet checked! It is unknown what specifically in raisins/sultanas causes a problem, but they are toxic due to their effect on kidney function and can even result in kidney failure. We therefore advise blood testing to monitor this at the time and 2 weeks after, with hospitalisation and fluid therapy support if too much time has elapsed after eating.
Alcohol, frequently enjoyed at Christmas time, is much more potent in animals than us. Even small tipples licked or eaten can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal! Symptoms usually start progressing after an hour, so before this we can induce vomiting to prevent signs, which vary from digestive upset to disorientation, collapsing and even seizuring. Blood tests and fluid support is essential, as alcohol can make glucose levels crash for up to hours after ingestion, which can be fatal, so regular monitoring is required.
Macademia nuts and peanuts are a food item to be aware of that, although not too dangerous, can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and occasionally weakness in dogs but usually this resolves within 2-3 days without any need for treatment!
Although not a food item, the last thing to be really careful of at this time of year is anti-freeze. This tastes delicious and sweet to pets, especially cats, but can be fatal if enough if ingested so it is really important to clean up any spillages in frosty months – it is sadly quite a common toxicity problem…the symptoms are dose and time dependent. Almost immediately animals will present as they do with alcohol poisoning above, but the condition progresses to circulation problems kidney failure within 24 hours in cats, 72 hours in a dog – signs of which include painful abdomen, ulcers in the mouth, drooling and urination problems. The prognosis varies depending on how quickly it gets spotted and they almost always need hospitalising.
So if you are at all suspicious your animals have got in the festive mood and eaten any of the above items (or anything else for that matter), just give us a call as the sooner we see them, the more we may be able to help to avoid more serious consequences.