Vets are urging owners to be watchful and keep their pets safe from hazardous items during the festive period.

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.

Pet poisons posterThere are several substances toxic to pets found in the home during the Christmas period. A survey of Facebook fans on Park Bench and Scratching Post (part of the PetNet360 site) about chocolate as a Christmas health hazard indicated dogs were more eager to sniff out chocolate than their feline counterparts, with 58 per cent of participants saying their dogs had got their paws on chocolate, whereas only 17 per cent of cats had.

Other hazardous 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 and garlic; 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, wrapping paper, decorations or broken glass baubles. Also take care not to leave batteries lying around – if ingested they may cause severe chemical burns resulting in severe impairment of both breathing and swallowing.

BVA president Carl Padgett 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 vet for advice immediately.”
Mr Padgett added: “Owners should check with their veterinary surgeon about emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours – or, if you are away from home, use to find a veterinary practice in an emergency.”

The British Veterinary Association’s charity, the Animal Welfare Foundation, in conjunction with the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, has produced a Pets and Poisons leaflet that draws attention to common household and garden substances that can be dangerous to pets.

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


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