Don't Give Your Pets A Toxic Christmas

RSPCA warn owners from giving pets poisonous 'treats'

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Pet owners who dish up a plate of Christmas dinner for their cats and dogs could be inadvertently poisoning them, according to the RSPCA UK.

Almost a quarter of the 867 people surveyed by the animal charity, who said they would give their pets a festive treat, were unaware that many of the traditional Christmas trimmings are toxic to cats and dogs.

Last year more than a dozen dogs were admitted to RSPCA hospitals after being treated to Christmas dinner by their owners.

Angela Grigg, manager at Putney Animal Hospital said: "We had 15 cases on Boxing day as a result of people giving their dogs their own Christmas dinner with turkey and stuffing. Turkey is very rich and stuffing contains onions which is not good for dogs. It caused them to have vomiting and diarrhoea and they became dehydrated. One or two of them were so severe they had to go on drips."

"The owners told us they were giving their dogs Christmas dinner as a treat but some human food can be toxic for dogs and in extreme cases could cause death. All of these cases were completely avoidable. If you want to give your dog a nice treat at Christmas take them for a lovely walk, or if you want to give them something to eat buy them a special treat especially designed for dogs."

Foods which cause illness in animals include grapes, raisins and sultanas, which can cause kidney failure, and chocolate, which contains theobromine and can cause fits, comas and heart failure, the charity said. Gravy containing high levels of salt can cause kidney problems if given in excess and alcohol can cause deadly poisoning, according to the research.

The survey also revealed that 31% of animals had opened or destroyed Christmas presents, 26% of owners said their pet had pulled down the Christmas tree, 17% had eaten Christmas decorations and 17% had helped themselves to Christmas dinner.

Seb Prior, clinical director at Harmsworth Hospital in London, said staff will be caring for up to 120 animals already being treated in the hospital as well pets which need emergency care. He said: "Boxing day is typically very busy after the excess of Christmas. Last year we had 10 new emergencies; two cats had blocked bladders, a condition which is exacerbated by stress. Often owners don't realise the impact that lots of visitors on our feline friends but it can be very stressful for them to have changes in their environment and this can have an impact on their health. So making sure they have places to hide or get away from things is important.

"We had two dogs with vomiting and diarrhoea; possibly as a result of eating food they would normally not be given."

He said in previous years he had treated a dog which nearly died after eating tinsel and another which had broken into a cupboard and eaten an entire Christmas cake which contained potentially toxic raisins, as well as a considerable amount of brandy..

December 23, 2013