Top pet hazards for festive season revealed

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PET owners are being urged to keep their animals safe over Christmas after the top hazards which landed people’s four-legged friends in vets’ surgeries last year were revealed.

Research conducted by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) showed problems for pet owners during the 2014 festive season included a nativity display, antifreeze and a stack of £20 notes.

The most common cause of a trip to the vets was chocolate poisoning in dogs, but a quarter of surgery owners surveyed also treated cats which had licked or swallowed antifreeze and 10 per cent saw dogs which had eaten Christmas decorations.

BVA president Sean Wensley said: “Christmas is typically a fun and chaotic time, with lots of presents and treats suddenly arriving in our homes.

“Many pet owners are aware of the risks of chocolate poisoning to their pets but it’s easy to accidentally leave something tempting lying around.

“Our results are a cautionary tale about the range of potential hazards around your home at this time of year and owners should be very aware that tasty treats, interesting decorations and new plants can be hard for curious animals to resist.

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

Almost one in five vets saw dogs that had eaten a non-edible gift given to them by their owner last Christmas, with raisins and sultanas also a common source of toxic ingestion.

Some of the most common issues for cats included eating seasonal plants such as poinsettias, which was seen by 12 per cent of vets surveyed, and Christmas decorations.

More unusual cases included a dog which had eaten £200 in £20 notes as well as most of the figures from a nativity stable scene and a large chocolate Santa.

The BVA is now giving animal owners five top tips to ensure the Christmas period is enjoyable for both pets and humans alike.

Festive treats which are toxic to cats and dogs include nuts, grapes, xylitol which is found in sugar-free products, liquorice, holly and mistletoe.

Decorations should all be kept out of pets’ reach and batteries for Christmas gifts should be put out of the way as they can cause severe chemical burns if swallowed.

Pets should be kept on their regular diet and routine over Christmas and owners should consider giving them toys rather than edible treats.

If the worst does happen owners should also be aware of their local vets’ emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours.