Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas

Many of us will use Christmas as an opportunity to spoil our dogs (and rightly so) but we also have to be careful that we do not make them poorly through our perhaps over generosity, particularly as we bring so many unusual and exciting things into our home at this time of year. Here at The Paw Pack we thought it would be useful to research and outline some of the most dangerous festive foods/objects to help you avoid any poorly pups over Christmas.

The Kennel Club have provided some great information which we have summarised below….

Chocolate

We all know this one, right?

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs. Chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is a stimulant and so can lead to your dog becoming excitable, as well as developing muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life threatening problems with their heart.  We don’t want to scare you, but the truth is that severe cases can be fatal.

Raisins, grapes, currants and sultanas

Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are all toxic to dogs and it is believed the dried forms of these fruits are more toxic than grapes. These include Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, mince pies, stolen and especially chocolate covered raisins.

 Macadamia nuts

Nuts can cause your dog to appear weak (particularly in their hind limbs), dull, sleepy and they can sometimes appear wobbly on their feet, or they may appear in pain or stiff when walking.  Vomiting, tremors, lethargy and an increased body temperature can also occur.  These effects usually appear within 12 hours and may last up to two days.

 Blue cheese

Roquefort and other blue cheeses contain a substance called roquefortine C, which is a substance produced by the fungus used to produce these cheeses. Dogs appear sensitive to this substance and in more extreme cases can cause dogs to quickly develop muscle tremors and seizures, which may last for up to two days.

 Alcohol

Dogs are believed to be more sensitive to ethanol than humans and so drinking even a small amount of alcohol can cause effects.

Bones

When cooked, all bones become brittle and can easily splinter. Eating chicken, turkey or goose carcases may cause larger pieces of bone to cause an obstruction, while smaller pieces may irritate the gut, or even penetrate the stomach or intestinal wall, which may require surgery.

 Allium species

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the Allium family (I know I just learnt this today too!).  These plants all contain a substance which can damage red blood cells in dogs and can cause life threatening anaemia.  Signs may not present for a few days, but can include your dog vomiting, having diarrhoea or abdominal pain and they may appear sleepy, dull, weak, off their food and sometimes they may have rapid breathing.  At Christmas ensure that your dog is kept away from sage and onion stuffing, onion based gravies or any other allium based foods.

 Plants

 Poinsettia

Poinsettia is often said to be very toxic, but the potency of this plant is often greatly exaggerated. Whilst it may not be as poisonous as you think, it can still cause excessive salivation and sometimes vomiting.

 Mistletoe

This festive shrub is considered to be of low toxicity, but the berries may cause a tummy upset if eaten.

 Ivy

This vine may cause a tummy upset if eaten, while substantial or prolonged skin contact can cause severe irritation, or an allergic contact dermatitis. Not to be confused with American poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), which is not commonly found in the UK.

 Potpourri

Potpourri is made up of a number of dried plants and flowers. These fragrant decorations may cause, at the very least, vomiting and diarrhoea.  .

Batteries

If a battery is chewed and punctured by your dog it can cause chemical burns, or even heavy metal poisoning in very extreme cases.  Signs of an obstruction may include vomiting, lethargy, being off their food, not defecating or finding it difficult to defecate.

 Silica gel sachets

These small sachets are commonly found in the packaging of items such as new shoes, electrical items, handbags etc.  Silica gel is non-toxic, but the sachet is often labelled “Do not eat”, not because it is poisonous, but because it is not a food item and therefore should not be eaten.  Although silica gel sachets are non-toxic, they could still cause a dangerous obstruction in the gut.

 What to do if you are concerned that your dog may have eaten something that they shouldn’t have?

Consult your local veterinary practice immediately. It is important that your veterinary practice make an informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be clinically assessed or treated.  Where possible ensure that you tell them:

Now I am just off to sit Bumble down and talk him through all of the above at great length.

The Paw Pack wish all our dogs (and owners) a wonderful, tummy ache free Christmas!

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