A Ledbury vet is warning pet owners to be aware of Christmas hazards which could result in an emergency trip to hospital for their animals. 

Rachel Mowbray, clinical director at Leadon Vale Veterinary Centre, said Christmas can present several potential issues for pets as homes are decorated for the season, and a range of food and drink is often left lying around.  

Items which present risks to pets at Christmas include ribbons on presents, tinsel, sharp tree needles, low-lying fairy lights, chestnuts and chocolate, which is often one of the most common causes for a trip to the vets. 

Ledbury Reporter: Rachel Mowbray of Leadon Vale Vets with a dogRachel Mowbray of Leadon Vale Vets with a dog (Image: NQ)

Drink, too, can be dangerous, and a traditional Christmas favourite, Baileys Irish Cream, can prove particularly dispiriting for animals. 

Rachel said: “Christmas and the associated festivities can present a bit of a minefield for pet owners.

“For example, dogs will drink most forms of alcohol left in glasses, so people need to be wary of leaving drinks where their animals can easily access them. 

“The signs of ethanol intoxication are similar to those in humans – vomiting, depression, a lack of coordination, disorientation and drowsiness. Dogs with these conditions need warmth, rehydration and immediate nursing care.”

Other festive items which could cause harm to animals include plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia, holly and ivy, which can all cause upset stomachs, while lilies can be very harmful to cats. 

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Food items which should be on the radars of pet owners include grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas, which can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats, along with macadamia nuts, onions, walnuts, bread and cheese, which can all be harmful. 

Rachel said the general busyness of the festive season can also cause some anxiety for pets.

“Christmas can often be busy and quite chaotic,” she said. “You can help your pet cope with the chaos by keeping to their normal routine, and if you are spending Christmas Day with family and your dog is going with you, take something which smells familiar to help them feel secure. 

“We’d also recommend using a calming diffuser, as with fireworks celebrations. 

“In terms of household hazards, while tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for your pet to play with, make sure they don’t eat it!”