Festive tips for pet owners

Covered mag, presented by Gocompare.com
  • | by Kristian Dando

Pet owners have been advised to take extra care this winter when it comes to their seasonal sundries.

Anti-freeze poisoning is a big problem for cats and dogs at this time of year, according to senior veterinary surgeon at PDSA, Elaine Pendlebury. “Dogs and cats are perhaps attracted to the sweet taste of a chemical called ethylene glycol used in anti-freeze, screen wash and de-icers. Pets have been known to willingly lap up any liquid containing ethylene glycol, such as that drained from a car’s radiator despite the often fatal consequences.”

Symptoms of anti-freeze poisoning include vomiting, increased thirst, weakness and convulsions. If owners suspect their pet has swallowed antifreeze, or any product they believe to be harmful, then it’s advisable to get in touch with their vet for advice. “The quicker a pet receives treatment the better,” says Elaine. “Pets seen within 12 hours of ingesting ethylene glycol have a better chance of survival.”

Chocolate, a staple indulgence for many at Christmas, is also a big problem for dogs, with thousands of family pets admitted to vets, thanks to a chemical present in the treats called theobromine. Senior vetrinary surgeon at PDSA Sean Wensley says that feeding human chocs to dogs is a non-starter. “Not only is it toxic for them, but the high sugar content isn’t good for their waistline or teeth,” he says.

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 12 hours and can last up to three days. Initial signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, a tender tummy and restlessness. These symptoms can then progress to hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In severe cases there are fits, heart beat irregularities, coma or even death.

Festive decorations can also pose a big problem, with animals prone to swallowing them whole – which could lead to internal injuries requiring potentially costly surgery. Christmas plants can also be a hazard for pets: holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are obligatory in lots of households, but make sure that they are well away from anywhere your pet could get to them, and that berries from the plants are swept away.

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