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Christmas treat or toxic tipple?

Christmas is a great time of the year and should be fun for all the family, dogs included. 

Many of us are already aware of some of the potential toxic foods our dogs can come across and take steps to avoid them.  However, the festive period is one where we often introduce all manner of exciting items into the house that we don't normally have. Some of these things can be potentially harmful to our pooches and it's worth knowing some of the common pitfalls.

We have tried to give you a few of the most common Christmas poisonings below. If in doubt please contact the clinic for more advice.

Common Christmas problems:

Grapes: exactly why and how these are poisonous to dogs is unknown and the exact vlume needed to cause symptoms is difficult to predict. Some dogs will eat one or two grapes and become seriously ill but other can eat many of them without apparent signs. The only way to be safe is to keep them out of reach of your dog.

Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies: these Christmas fancies are bad for dogs for a number of reasons.

The first is that they are filled with currents, raisins and sultanas. These are all a variation of the 'grape' and as such have the same serious health risks. It is common for them to ingest far more 'grapes' in this form than they would fresh grapes because there are so many packed into cakes as they are smaller.

Secondly they are full of fat, suet etc which can often give severe stomach troubles such as vomitting. However more worryingly high fat meals are one of the high risk factors leading to pancreatitis. This can be a very serious and costly disease to treat.

Thirdly christmas pudding and cakes are often laced with large amounts of alcohol which can cause many of the symptoms of intoxication seen in people.

Chocolate coins and other choccy decorations: Most people are aware of the dangers for dogs from eating chocolate and take steps to avoid leaving any near their dogs. However, it is not uncommon for people to forget about the chocolate coins or decorations and leave them in an irresistible location. As well as the dangers of the chocolate the actual wrapping foil can be problematic as they work through the gut system.

Bones: At this time of year we often cook far more meat joints than usual and this normally results in many more bones lying about. Once cooked all bones become brittle and splinter easily. This can lead to larger fragments becoming stuck causing obstructions but also smaller pieces can cause gut irritation and perforation or even just difficulty tolieting.

Most people avoid the initial pitfall of removing obvious bones from surfaces only to get caught out later by a night raided of a dustbin once carcasses have been disposed of. Make sure you dispose of the string from any meat joints as this can be a tempting toy for your dogs and could be harmful if ingested. The best way to avoid both risks is to take any bones or rubbish straight outside into a sealed bin.

Alcohol: We tend to use much more alcohol in our cooking at this time of the year and so even normal titbits can be potentially problematic over the Christmas period. As it is for people, alcohol is also intoxicating for dogs and can cause similar unpleasant side effects.

If your dog does get into mischief and consume any of these things then it is vital to contact the clinic immediately for advice. Often early treatment can allow for a much more successful recovery.

Throughout the festive period we will be running our normal out of hours service. For more information please speak to one of our receptionists who will be able to give your our Christmas opening times or contact the clinic on 01264 352323.

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