Christmas and associated dangers

Christmas is celebrated on the 25th day of December each year. We celebrate this special day by exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending special ceremonies in church and sharing meals with family and friends. Children wait for Santa Claus to arrive and distribute gifts and candies. While this event brings for you joy and happiness and many lively moments with friends and family it can also be quite a dangerous period for your dogs and cats.

Main reasons for visits to the Vet’s surgery during the Christmas Festivities:

No 1. Gastritis and Enteritis

No 2. Swallowing a foreign body

No 3. Soft tissue damage

No 4. Bite wounds or lacerations

No 5. Chocolate poisoning

Here are several risks associated with Christmas celebrations that can harm your dog. As responsible owners you need to be aware of these hazards and take suitable precautions.

Grapes and dried fruits

Grapes and their dried products like raisins important part of Christmas however they are harmful for dogs. Ingestion of even a small quantity can cause severe kidney failure. Also the chocolate coated raisins contain added risk of chocolate toxicity.


All types of alcohol are part of Christmas dinners. Dogs can have side effects similar to human beings if alcohol is consumed in excess. Dogs can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases, there is high probability of low body temperature and low blood sugar. Dogs may help themselves to any unattended alcohol left lying around over Christmas, so ensure it’s always out of their reach.

Artificial sweeteners

Chocolates and candies are widely consumed during this festive season. These chocolates and candies contain artificial sweetener called xylitol which is poisonous to dogs. It can stimulate the release of insulin in the body, resulting in low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. Signs of poisoning can be rapid or delayed, and include vomiting, lethargy and convulsions. So make sure all chocolates and candies are out of reach of your dogs and cats.

Christmas tree

A Christmas tree is a source of joy during the Christmas season however it can pose dangerous hazards to your dog. It contains pine needles. If your dog chews or swallows Christmas tree needles, it can cause serious consequences as they are not easily digested. They can also can obstruct or puncture her gastrointestinal track. Christmas trees are generally decorated by small lights and bulbs. Some types of bulbs can get very hot and burn your dog. Secondly chewing on electric wires also can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) which can be fatal. People also use artificial plastic flowers and ornaments to decorate trees. However if they are swallowed by a dog, it can create a serious gastrointestinal blockage. Some ornaments may be lethal depending upon the materials or chemicals used to create them.

Christmas plants

Poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are common Christmas plants which are used widely during this festive season, however it might not be all rosy for your dog. Poinsettia, if swallowed, can cause irritation in the mouth and stomach with overproduction of saliva and sometimes vomiting. Holly is considered as low toxic, but ingestion of holly berries may result in a stomach upset. Ingestion of European mistletoe plant may also result in a stomach upset.

Visitors into your home

Although many pets love it when visitors come to their home, usually because of all the extra attention they receive, some dogs don’t like strangers in their home environment. The festive season can be quite busy with people coming and going. Be conscious of your pet’s feelings and how he reacts to visitors. If need be, give him somewhere quiet that he can go to when things get quite noisy in the living room.

Christmas is a holiday time that we love to celebrate and spend time with friends and family. The very last thing anyone really needs is to be in the waiting room at the local Vet’s surgery on Christmas Day. Take extra special precautions around your home, especially when putting up your decorations. Have a happy, healthy and very festive Christmas season.



A letter to Santa Paws | 12 days of Christmas | Christmas Decorations | Christmas Plants | Christmas Dinner for Dogs | Christmas and Associated Dangers
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