This is the most wonderful time of year for chocolates, treats, and garlands, but the silly season can also present many risks to the safety of our pets.
This Christmas, the SPCA is encouraging pet owners not to share human food with their furry family members and to be careful of where they leave edible treats or festive decorations that may be toxic to animals.
SPCA chief science officer Dr Alison Vaughan said while many pet owners know chocolate is dangerous for dogs and cats, there is also a range of party foods that people enjoy. deliver during the holiday period and which may be harmful to pets.
“I know it can be hard to resist a pair of puppy eyes begging for a piece of Christmas cake or pudding, but your pet could get seriously ill if they eat what you eat while on vacation. Explains Dr Vaughan. “Animals digest food differently from humans, and some foods that are safe for us can have serious health consequences if consumed by our pets.”
In addition to chocolate, foods such as macadamia nuts, grapes or raisins in fruit cakes, corn on the cob, onions, turkey skin, pork crackers, and fatty meats can all be harmful to pets. Owners need to be extra vigilant this time of year, as many will know how quickly pets can get into food they are not supposed to. Gifts under the tree, food left on tables, in trash bags and in purses are common places where pets often steal food that can make them sick.
âThe best way to avoid an expensive emergency trip to the vet this Christmas is to make sure that you don’t share food with your pets and that things like chocolate aren’t left under the tree or in the garden. a place where they can easily be reached by a curious cat or dog, âsays Dr Vaughan.
Pet owners should also be careful with Christmas decorations that could be harmful to their pets. If ingested, garlands, ribbons, and other string-like items can become entangled in the animal’s intestinal tract, causing serious and potentially fatal damage to its digestive system.
“Cats and kittens may find the Christmas tree and decorations such as fairy lights and garlands attractive, but it goes without saying that this could be a recipe for disaster,” says Dr Vaughan. âMake sure your tree is secure so that it can’t tip over and that the lights are unplugged when you’re not at home in case your pet decides to chew on a cord. It’s also a good idea to avoid garlands and glass ornaments in case your pet tries to chew on them.
Christmas is gift-giving season, and there are plenty of other ways to spoil your pets. You can freeze pet food or put it in specially designed puzzle feeders so that your pets can gradually extract the food. Taking a walk or playing games in the garden after a big meal is also a great way to make sure your pet gets the attention they need, and it also helps fight your own post-meal lethargy.
If you think your pet has eaten something unsafe, you should immediately call your local veterinary clinic. Do not attempt to induce vomiting except under the direction of a veterinarian as this can be dangerous and actually cause more harm to your pets.
Common festive foods that are dangerous for pets:
Â· Fruit Cake and Christmas Pudding: Raisins (and grapes) are dangerous for cats and dogs. They are toxic to their kidneys and can cause lethargy, excessive thirst, vomiting. In some cases, even small amounts can be fatal.
Â· Alcohol and caffeine: Cats and dogs are more sensitive to these drugs than humans, and symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to severe poisoning requiring medical treatment.
Avocados: These contain persin which causes a range of symptoms in different species, from vomiting and diarrhea to severe respiratory distress. Birds and livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats are particularly susceptible to persine, but avocado should not be given to pets.
Â· Chocolate: For cats and dogs, chocolate can cause a rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes seizures. Dark chocolate and baked chocolate are the most dangerous for our pets, but it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep all chocolate out of reach.
Macadamia nuts: may cause vomiting, weakness and tremors if eaten by dogs.
Â· Onions and chives: These contain disulfides and sulfoxides, which can damage red blood cells if eaten by cats and dogs.
Pits of peaches, plums and persimmons: the pits are choking hazards that can cause blockages and damage to the intestine.
Xylitol (a common ingredient in sugar-free treats and sugar-free gum): causes hypoglycemia in dogs, which can lead to seizures and liver failure.
Sweet corn cobs: These can cause blockages in the small intestine which may require surgical removal. Don’t let your dog chew on the cob.
Turkey skin / pork crackers / sausages / fatty meats: the high fat content can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea and can lead to pancreatitis.
Pet Decorating Tips:
Â· Make sure your Christmas tree is securely attached to the floor, wall or ceiling and cannot easily tip over.
Â· Skip the foil or keep it out of the reach of all pets.
Â· Switch to battery-powered candles or solar power.
Â· Decorate with unbreakable ornaments such as plastic, wood or paper.
Â· Keep lights and small decorations out of the reach of animals.
Use plastic LED lights, they are cool to the touch, durable and energy efficient.
Â· Cover and contain the cords with a plastic case or stick them with adhesive tape.
Â· Unplug lights and other electronic decorations when you are away from home.
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