Vets Warn of Festive Hazards for Pets

Vets are urging pet owners to make sure their festive homes are safe for animals during the Christmas season by warning of a number of unknown hazards and poisons in and around the home.

The British Veterinary Association’s charity the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) is re-launching its ‘Pets and Poisons’ leaflet to draw attention to common household and garden substances that may seem innocent but which can be very dangerous to pets.

Many of the substances highlighted are found in the home during the Christmas period including raisins and sultanas used to make Christmas cakes and puddings, chocolate, liquorice and sweets which are often given as Christmas gifts, Blutack used to put up cards and decorations, and antifreeze, which is often used in the winter months.

Festive homes also contain additional hazards for pets such as electrical cables powering Christmas Tree lights, which could be very dangerous if chewed, and wrapping and bows from presents.

Relaunching the Pets and Poisons leaflet (above), vet Carl Padgett, Chair of Trustees for the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation, said:

“Christmas is a time for families and we’re reminding pet owners it’s also time to remember the health and welfare of their animals too.

“Pet owners should educate themselves about all the hazardous poisons in their homes and gardens and take simple steps to ensure they are kept at a safe distance from cats, dogs and other animals.

“The BVA AWF guide to Pets and Poisons is clear and simple to use and could help reduce the dangers in the home.”

Vet Bill Reilly, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

“Our message to pet owners is don’t ruin your Christmas through carelessness. The loss or illness of a family pet is devastating but poisoning in the home can be easily avoided.

“Some substances may make your animal drool or vomit so they should always have access to clean drinking water. If there is any doubt or concern owners should contact their vets for advice immediately.”

Vets and members of the public can request hard copies of the leaflet by emailing

1. Substances which can be poisonous to pets include:

* Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
* Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake recipes)
* Certain nuts
* Xylitol-sweetened foods
* Sweets
* Other foods such as onions, avocados and grapes
* Plants including lilies (and daffodils)
* Cleaning and DIY products eg white spirit and lubricating oils
* Car anti-freeze
* Human medicines

2. Substances with low toxicity that could cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea include:

* Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
* Charcoal and coal
* Cut-flower and houseplant food
* Expended polystyrene foam (used for large present packing eg stereos/TVs)
* Holly and mistletoe (common Christmas plants/decorations)
* Matches
* Wax candles and crayons
* Silica gel (found in packaging)

The leaflet is available to download from the BVA AWF website.

For more information please contact the BVA media office on 020 7908 6340 or

The British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF) is the BVA’s own animal welfare charity committed to improving the welfare of all animals through science, education and debate.

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