Avoid CAT-astrophes this Christmas!!

(BVA Release) 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.

There are several substances toxic to pets which are found in the home during the Christmas period. 

Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning, especially in dogs, but it is also toxic to other species, for example cats, rodents and rabbits.  

Other items include sweets and liquorice which are often given as Christmas gifts; raisins and sultanas used to make Christmas cakes, mince pies and Christmas puddings; grapes; onions; Blu-tack 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; wrapping and bows from presents; decorations such as tinsel which might be ingested or broken glass baubles which could cause injury.


Vet Harvey Locke, President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), 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.

“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 vet for advice immediately.”

Mr Locke added:

“Owners should check with their veterinary surgeon about emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours – or, if you are away from home, click here  to find a veterinary practice in an emergency.”

The British Veterinary Association’s charity the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has produced a ‘Pets and Poisons’ leaflet which draws attention to common household and garden substances that may seem innocent but which can be very dangerous to pets.

Vet Carl Padgett, Chair of Trustees for the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation, said:

“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 not only at Christmas but all year round.”

Vets and members of the public can request hard copies of the leaflet by emailing bva-awf@bva.co.uk

The BVA also warns that noise and excitement at Christmas time can cause animals to get nervous and stressed so pets will need a safe haven where they can go for peace and quiet.  

If you are travelling away from home do ensure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar and identification tag so it can be easily reunited with you should it become lost. 

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 (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
Xylitol-sweetened foods
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, mistletoe and poinsettia (common Christmas plants/decorations)
Wax candles and crayons
Silica gel (found in packaging)

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