Christmas Hazards for Pooches: A MyDogDoc Advent Calendar!

Posted by MyDogDoc on

This festive countdown will help you to keep your canine pal safe and sound this Christmas:

  • Learn about the Top Christmas Culprits that lead to a visit to the vets for your pooch

  • Get top tips on how to keep your pet safe!

  • Keep hazards out of reach of your dog, prepare your house for the festivities with your dog in mind, and clear up as you go - oh, and it might be a tasty treat for you, but a Tummy ache for your doggo, so take care what you feed them!

Christmas can be one of the busiest times of year, and a stressful time, for dogs as well as humans. With so much going on, and a house full of shiny, interesting things to dogs, there’s a lot of potential for doggy trouble! At MyDogDoc we love to Think Dog, and we’d like to help you avoid that emergency trip to the vets on Christmas Day, so here are 25 top hazards to look out for this Christmas, and how to try to avoid them.

1) Chocolate

Hazard: contains the chemical theobromine which is toxic to dogs. Theobromine acts like a stimulant causing vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, heart problems and in severe cases, death.

Prevention: avoid chocolate Christmas tree decorations or putting chocolate gifts under the tree. Keep all chocolates out of reach of dogs.

2) Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake and Mince Pies (Grapes and Dried fruits)

Hazard: any food containing grapes or dried fruits such as sultanas, raisins or currants can be toxic to dogs. Eating even the smallest quantity of these can lead to severe kidney failure.

Prevention: keep all foods containing grapes and dried fruits well away from dogs. Make sure that any crumbs are cleaned up before naughty mouths have access to them!

3) Turkey bones (and other cooked bones)

Hazard: any bones when they are cooked become very brittle and are at risk of splintering into sharp pieces which can cause a gut blockage, damage or even puncture your dog’s digestive tract. Poultry bones in particular are very fine and can be easily missed.

Prevention: do not feed your dog any cooked bones as a treat. Take extra care when carving your meat to ensure it doesn’t contain small bones (for the benefit of dogs and humans!) Do not leave meat in the kitchen where the dog can reach it and dispose of all carcasses in an outside bin where your dog cannot gain access to it.

4) Onions (Garlic, leeks, shallots and chives)

Hazard: any foods containing onions eg. stuffing, onion gravy, turkey curry can cause tummy upsets causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Onions can also cause damage to red blood cells which can lead to anaemia – which isn’t always apparent for some time. Be aware that garlic, leeks, shallots and chives are all part of the same family as onions (the allium family) and can cause serious problems.

Prevention: be sure not to let your dog eat any foods containing onions or any member of the allium family. Dispose of all leftovers carefully.

5) Blue cheese

Hazard: the fungus used to make blue cheeses such as Stilton and Roquefort produces a substance called roquefortine C which is toxic to dogs. This substance can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, high temperatures and seizures.

Prevention: do not feed to your dog and keep well out of reach. Dispose of any leftovers.

6) Macadamia nuts

Hazard: these nuts can cause lethargy, a high temperature, tremors, lameness and stiffness. Other types of nuts do not seem to be as toxic as macadamia nuts (some may just cause a tummy upset) but it is a good idea to avoid feeding your dog any type of nut.

Prevention: avoid having bowls of nuts lying around and store away in a cupboard. Be sure to clear up any dropped nuts.

7) Gravy

Hazard: dogs love gravy because of its meaty mouth-watering flavour. Unfortunately, gravy contains a high salt and fat content, which can lead to stomach ache and an upset tummy for our pooches. There is also the risk that the gravy could contain onions which are also toxic to dogs.

Prevention: do not add gravy or sauces to your dog’s dinner. There are many dog friendly recipes which contain less salt and fat and which are safer to feed your dog.

8) Mouldy leftovers

Hazard: When food starts to rot and go mouldy, it produces toxins which are harmful to your dog. They can cause vomiting, tremors, a high body temperature and seizures. Bread, dairy products and nuts seem to be some of the worst foods for producing these toxins.

Prevention: ensure your dog cannot gain access to your food waste bin or compost heap.

9) Artificial sweeteners

Hazard: Xylitol, an artificial sweetener is found in a number of foods such as cake, sweets and chocolates which are particularly prevalent at Christmas. It can also be found in chewing gum, toothpastes, mouthwash and supplements. Once ingested, it causes the body to release insulin (a hormone which regulates the body’s sugar levels) and causes dangerously low blood sugar levels and occasionally liver damage. Signs can be sudden in onset or gradual and include vomiting, lethargy, convulsions, and coma. There are a number of other artificial sweeteners which can cause similar problems, but xylitol is thought to be the most toxic.

Prevention: avoid feeding your dog any foods containing these artificial sweeteners and be extra careful they do not gain access to other products containing them such as chewing gum and toothpastes.

10) Alcohol

Hazard: alcohol has a similar, although more severe effect on dogs as it does to their owners. Signs include being uncoordinated, drowsy, vomiting, diarrhoea, low blood sugar, coma and seizures.

Prevention: don’t leave drinks lying around or place them on the floor where dogs can easily reach them. Be sure to clean up all spillages

11) Coffee

Hazard: caffeine, found in coffee (and also in tea and some soft drinks,) is a stimulant. Dogs are more sensitive to caffeine than humans. It can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, increased heart rate and abnormal rhythms, high blood pressure, seizures and collapse.

Prevention: Do not leave caffeine containing products lying around where your dog can take a sneaky lap.

12) Poinsettias

Hazard: irritation to the mouth and stomach - leading to drooling, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Prevention: Keep away from curious pups and above dog level.

13) Christmas Tree

Hazard: Pine needles can cause a mild tummy upset. Occasionally their sharp needles can cause sores to the mouth and stomach lining and in worst cases, can even puncture the intestines.

Prevention: regular hoovering under the Christmas tree to pick up fallen pins, or using an artificial Christmas Tree.

14) Mistletoe

Hazard: As with many of the plant decorations it is the berries which cause the most toxicity. The European Species of Mistletoe can cause mild tummy upsets – eg. drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea if the berries are eaten, whilst the American Species of Mistletoe tends to be more poisonous.

Prevention: Keep well out of reach of dogs and be vigilant for any fallen berries.

15) Holly and Ivy

Hazard: As with Mistletoe, the American Poison Ivy (as the name suggests) is far more toxic than the Hedera species usually found in wreaths etc. The Hedera species can still cause a mild tummy upset and can also be a skin irritant causing allergic contact dermatitis with prolonged exposure.

Prevention: Keep out of reach of dogs

16) Batteries

Hazard: batteries can be very dangerous when ingested or chewed and ingestion is most common over the festive period. They can lead to chemical burns, heavy metal poisoning and tissue injury. Small button or coin cell batteries can be particularly dangerous.

Prevention: Keep batteries and objects containing batteries out of reach of dogs. Be particularly careful over Christmas when lots of new presents which require assembly have separate packets of batteries.

17) Christmas Decorations

Hazard: Glass Christmas baubles are at risk of shattering easily, causing injury to the mouth and stomach when ingested. They can even cause perforations or blockages.

Tinsel – this can cause blockages and, worse still, can cause the intestines to concertina up causing severe damage.

Fairy lights – chewing these will cause an electric shock and thermal burns.

Prevention: Keep all decorations above dog level. Use dog friendly decorations and shatter-free baubles.

18) Toys

Hazard: These are in abundance over Christmas – from board game pieces, small toys from Christmas crackers to parts of children’s toys, - these can all lead to damage and can lodge in the digestive system leading to obstruction.

Prevention: avoid leaving toys lying around the floor or at dog level. Be careful to pick up all small objects such as board game pieces and cracker objects.

19) Bleach and cleaning products

Hazard: bleach and other cleaning products are often caustic and alkaline, leading to severe chemical burns within the mouth and digestive system. Signs include, drooling, ulcers in the mouth, bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, and tummy pain.

Prevention: keep all cleaning products well out of reach dogs – ideally in a top cupboard. There are some pet-friendly alternative cleaning products on the market or natural cleaning products available such as lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar.

20) Wrapping paper and ribbons

Hazard: wrapping paper is not greatly toxic, but if eaten in large enough amounts it could cause an obstruction in the digestive tract. Ribbons have a similar effect to tinsel in that they can cause the intestines to concertina up, causing severe damage and obstruction.

Prevention: dispose of all wrapping paper and ribbons as soon as the presents have been unwrapped and preferably in an outside bin.

21) Silica Gel

Hazard: commonly found in small packets in boxes of electronic goods to keep things dry. They are not greatly toxic but can cause blockages in the tummy or a tummy upset.

Prevention: keep an eye out for these sachets when un-wrapping presents and be sure to dispose of them before the dog has access to them.

22) Cigarettes

Hazard: the nicotine component in cigarettes is toxic to dogs. It can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, hyperexcitability, twitching, seizures, drooling and difficulty walking.

Prevention: Ensure that all cigarette butts and ash are disposed of carefully and away from where dogs could get at them.

23) Candles and essential oils

Hazard: candles are reasonably low in toxicity, mainly causing diarrhoea if eaten. They can however cause problems such as blockage to the intestines in an unlucky few cases. Essential oils can cause toxicity problems particularly if the dog has been in close contact with a diffuser or got the oil on its skin and licked it off. One of the most harmful essential oils to dogs is Tea Tree Oil, which can cause weakness, inability to walk, tremors, and coma.

Prevention: Keep candles, essential oils and diffusers well away from dogs.

24) Pot Pourri

Hazard: can cause significant digestive upset and tummy pain if eaten, and even seizures. The effects can last several days even when the material has been passed.

Prevention: Try and avoid having potpourri in the home at all or make sure to keep well out of the reach of dogs.

25) Christmas Walks

There’s nothing better than a walk with the dog to blow off the Christmas cobwebs but there are a few things which are worth remembering when you’re out and about with your dog.

Fungi, mushrooms and toadstools are abundant in many woodlands this time of year and should all be considered toxic to dogs until proven otherwise. Some species affect the digestive system causing vomiting and diarrhoea, some species affect the liver and kidneys, whilst others affect the central nervous system causing seizures and weakness.

Rock salt and road grit can cause problems when dogs walk on roads/pavements which have been gritted and then lick their paws afterwards. This can lead to salt poisoning – only very small amounts of salt can prove to be very poisonous. It can cause severe kidney injury and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive thirst or weeing, lethargy, lack of appetite and weakness.

Antifreeze which contains the chemical ethylene glycol can cause severe kidney failure. The sweet tasting liquid can be very tempting for dogs to lick and signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst and urination, appearing drunk and weak.

Of course, no matter how hard we try, accidents do happen sometimes. If you are concerned your dog may have access to a Christmas Hazard, it is always best to contact a vet for advice. The vets at MyDogDoc will be available to help advise you throughout the festive period - book an appointment and we will be happy to help. Merry Christmas!

Alcohol Batteries Blue Cheese Bones Caffeine Chocolate Christmas Festive Hazards Macadamia nuts Mistletoe Nutrition Onions Poinsettia Pot Pourri Raisins Ribbons Toxins Xylitol

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