Check the halls

Sunday Mirror - - TRAVEL - BY KAREN ROCKETT

Tis the sea­son to be jolly care­ful where your pets are con­cerned. Vets are swamped with cases of poi­son­ing over Christ­mas as cats and dogs tuck into a va­ri­ety of un­suit­able treats, fes­tive fare – and even get their teeth into baubles, tin­sel and bat­ter­ies.

On Christ­mas Day and Box­ing Day alone there is an eight­fold in­crease in cases of dogs poi­soned by choco­late. It con­tains a stim­u­lant called theo­bromine, which is se­verely poi­sonous to pooches.

And though 93 per cent of own­ers say they know choco­late is a risk, 32 per cent of dogs have eaten some – as a treat or by nib­bling sweets left ly­ing around.

Dozens of foods are dan­ger­ous for dogs, like macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, gar­lic and onions, av­o­ca­dos, ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers and al­co­hol. A shock­ing 5.5 mil­lion own­ers un­wit­tingly feed their pets these harm­ful foods at Christ­mas.

The sec­ond most com­mon cause of pet poi­son­ing is, bizarrely, anti-freeze – or eth­yl­ene gly­col. The toxic liq­uid is found in fes­tive or­na­ments like snow globes and a quar­ter of vets have treated se­ri­ously ill cats who have clawed them open. Also be wary of us­ing any fer­tilis­ers or plant food on pot­ted Christ­mas trees, as many are toxic to cats and can seep into wa­ter­ing trays which they lap from.

Sea­sonal plants like poin­set­tia are dan­ger­ous too if in­gested, caus­ing 10 per cent of poi­son­ing cases in dogs and six per cent in cat cases.

Last Christ­mas one in five vets saw dogs that had eaten a non-ed­i­ble gift from their owner.

And they warn you to keep rib­bons, wrap­ping pa­per, baubles, tin­sel and tree lights out of reach. Bat­ter­ies need to be kept safe as they can cause se­vere burns to the mouth, throat and stom­ach.

A Bri­tish Ve­teri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman said: “It’s easy to ac­ci­den­tally leave some­thing tempt­ing ly­ing around.

“If you sus­pect your pet may have eaten some­thing they shouldn’t then don’t de­lay con­sult­ing your lo­cal vet.”

The best gift, say vets, is a toy. Keep pets on their usual diet – and check you have the con­tact de­tails for the vet on call over Christ­mas.

DOG’S DIN­NER Watch what your pets eat this Xmas

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