Traditional treats, such as chocolate and tinsel may be festive favourites but vets on call over the yuletide period have become well used to seeing the damage they can cause.

Traditional treats such as chocolate and tinsel may be festive favourites, but vets on call over the Yuletide period have become well used to seeing the damage they can cause.

Robin Hargreaves
, president of the BVA, said: “Christmas is an exciting but frantic time for most of us. Our homes may be packed with new and tempting things, which are hard for curious pets to resist.

“As a vet, I see the hazards posed by seemingly harmless holiday treats. Last year my practice treated three dogs with chocolate poisoning in just 12 hours in the week before Christmas.

Luckily, they all responded to treatment, but they were fortunate their owners sought help early. Cocoa is very toxic to dogs so darker, luxury brands can be even more dangerous than milk chocolate treats.

“There’s also a temptation to indulge your pet with richer food than usual, but this isn’t good for its stomach or its waistline. Consider getting it a new toy or taking it for a long walk after dinner instead. These are healthy gifts it’ll really enjoy.

“I’d encourage anyone who owns cats and dogs to take these tips to heart and avoid adding an emergency visit to the vet to your to-do list this Christmas.”

In order to keep the Christmas season merry for the whole household, the BVA is urging animal-lovers to ensure their homes are safe for four-legged friends by following these seven simple tips.
Protect your pet from poisons – A number of festive treats, such as chocolate, grapes, sweets and liquorice, are toxic to cats and dogs. A traditional Christmas meal may contain turkey bones, onions and garlic in gravy or stuffing and raisins in Christmas pudding, all of which can be fatal if eaten by your pet.
Keep decorations out of reach – Ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can all prove irresistible to cats and dogs, but can be very dangerous if broken, chewed or swallowed. Try to keep decorations and Blu Tack out of reach of curious pets. Batteries for Christmas gifts also need to be kept away from pets. If ingested, they may cause severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach.
Forget festive food for pets – we all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas, but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn’t be shared with our beloved pets. They can trigger indigestion, sickness and diarrhoea – and, at worst, conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis. So try to stick to your pet’s regular diet and routine.
Give toys not treats
– We all want our pets to share the fun and many of us include a gift for our pet on the shopping list. But too many treats can lead to fat, unhappy animals so consider opting for a new toy, extra cuddles or a long walk if you want to indulge your pet this Christmas.
Know where to go – Even with all the care in the world, animal accidents and emergencies can still happen. Make sure you’re prepared by checking your vet’s emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours – or, if you are away from home, use the RCVS’ Find a Vet facility at to find a veterinary practice in an emergency.
For more information on pets and poisons, download the AWF leaflet at

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