Common Dangers for Pets at Christmas

scottish fold cat and welsh corgi dog under christmas tree

Try to avoid these surprisingly common dangers this festive season. No one wants to be driving to an emergency vet around Christmas…


Christmas Decorations

Working with animals always keeps you on your toes, and you’d be surprised by how common it is for pets to come in during the holiday season because they have eaten something they shouldn’t have.

Christmas tree ornaments, batteries, bows/ribbons on presents, string/cooking twine and tinsel are probably the most commonly ingested items, but even the things you would never expect an animal to eat can be a hazard.

Decorations that are swallowed can lead to serious intestinal obstructions, which may require surgery.


Certain food items

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and cause hind limb lameness, pain and weakness. Even before they’re out of the shell they can pose a threat to your dog and could result in serious bowel obstruction.


Well I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many who can resist chocolate, including dogs! Cat’s aren’t usually as curious about chocolate as dogs but it’s really important to keep it away from both. The chemicals in chocolate do not react with with both cat and dog’s digestive systems. Different types of chocolates present different dangers, so try to make sure children are aware that chocolate is not a treat for the family pet. Chocolate can cause both cats and dogs to become agitated and jittery, their heart beat increases exponentially, and can cause seizures.

Onions and Garlic

When given to cats and dogs, it can cause damage to their red blood cells, leading to severe anaemia. When they do not have enough red blood cells (due to the damage caused), their vital organs do not obtain enough oxygen. This can cause them to be lethargic, have pale or yellow gums and have rapid or difficulty breathing.

Grapes and Sultanas

Grapes cause the kidneys, in dogs, to stop working which can be life threatening. Grapes, raisins and sultanas are only toxic to some dogs, but there is no way of knowing which ones. Christmas pudding is a rich source of raisins and sultanas so you should keep your dog’s away from this.

Fatty foods

Any change to your pet’s diet such as receiving scraps from the dinner table, means there is potential for gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Fatty foods can lead to more serious pancreatitis. Some signs include lethargy, poor appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. Try to stick to your pet’s regular diet over the coming holiday season.


When people get hot, they sweat. However, dogs cannot sweat, instead panting to regulate their temperature. Brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, or french bulldogs have more trouble panting effectively in hot or humid weather, and are particularly susceptible to heatstroke.

Please avoid exercising your pet in hot or humid weather during the summer months, as it puts them at risk of overheating (especially during the hottest part of the day).

Signs of heatstroke include agitation, excessive and continuous panting, vomiting, diarrhoea and collapse.

Despite their desert origins, cats also suffer from heat, in particular those with a flat face such as Persian or Himalayan breeds, those with thick/long coats or overweight/obese cats. Excessive panting, agitation, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and collapse can be signs of heatstroke in cats.


Dogs and cats are very sensitive to alcohol toxicity and even seemingly small amounts can cause death. So whilst there will most likely be a lot of alcohol around this festive season, make sure it is only the humans that are drinking responsibly, and your cat/dog is not given any.

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