12 Common Dangers at Christmas for Your Furry Friend

Make sure you avoid these common dangers to keep your pets safe this festive season


Macadamia nuts are yummy all year round but we tend to buy more during this time of year. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and cause hind limb lameness, pain and weakness. Even before they’re out of the shell they can be a threat to your dog and could result in a serious bowel obstruction.


It is quite common for us to see terrible injuries to the back of dogs’ throats when they accidentally run onto the stick as it lands on the ground. A stick can cause wounds in the back of the throat and cause a horrible injury that is painful and difficult to explore and fix. Much safer to buy your dog a Frisbee for Christmas!

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Yum! Who can resist chocolate? Most dogs can’t! Cats aren’t usually as curious about chocolate as dogs but it’s really important to keep chocolate away from both. Dogs and cats are VERY sensitive to the chemicals in chocolate. It can make them agitated and jittery, their hearts race dangerously fast, and can even cause seizures. Different types of chocolate present different dangers so please make sure only the humans enjoy it. Especially, make sure children are aware as they may think they’re giving their pet a Christmas treat by offering them chocolate.


Although we all love the flavour provided by these tasty veggies, they can cause severe anaemia in dogs and cats. This means that they don’t have enough red blood cells to provide oxygen to their vital organs. They may be lethargic, have pale or even yellow gums and have rapid or difficulty breathing.


While people sweat when they get hot, dogs can’t. Instead, dogs pant to regulate their temperature. Dog breeds with a short nose and noisy breathing such as Bulldogs, Pugs and French Bulldogs have more trouble panting effectively in hot or humid weather and can be at risk of heat stroke on hot days. Exercise during hot or humid weather during the summer months can put dogs at risk of overheating. It is important to avoid excessive exercise in the hottest part of the day. Signs of heat stroke include agitation, excessive and continuous panting, vomiting, diarrhoea and collapse. Despite their desert origins, cats also suffer from heat, in particular those breeds with flat faces 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.


Paralysis ticks are most common from spring to autumn. They can attach to dogs and cats and cause paralysis which can be life threatening. Signs include high-pitched bark in dogs, weakness or wobbly hind legs, retching and regurgitation and eventually complete collapse. Come in to the clinic to discuss the best preventative tick products available. No product is 100% effective however and there is no substitute for regular manual searches to detect and remove paralysis ticks.


During the festive season there is plenty of alcohol around and while humans should drink responsibly, dogs and cats cannot be given alcohol. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to alcohol toxicity and even seemingly small amounts can cause death.

Pets can also develop alcohol toxicity from eating uncooked rising bread dough, which can contain alcohol from the fermenting yeast.


Grapes, raisins and sultanas are only toxic to some dogs, but there is no way of knowing which ones! Unfortunately, once they have eaten them, we have to assume they are going to be toxic, as there is no way of knowing until it is too late. Grapes cause the kidneys to stop working which can be life threatening.

Christmas pudding is a rich source of raisins and sultanas so you should keep your dogs away from this.


At this time of year people and pets are more active and so are snakes. It is very important to be aware of snakes in the local area and try to keep dogs and cats away from them. Signs of snakebite can develop within minutes to hours after the initial bite so always seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect your pet has been bitten.


Although a very pretty plant in the garden, the ‘Yesterday Today Tomorrow’ plant is toxic to dogs. Dogs seem to love the flavour, especially the seed pods, but it causes severe tremors and seizures. Often, affected dogs will pass the toxic seeds in their stool. If you have cats then avoid lilliesin your indoor flower decorations. The orang pollen inside the flower is very toxic and can be fatal to cats. They don’t even need to eat it. Even if cats walk under the flowers and some pollen drops onto their coat, they’ll consume it when they groom themselves and this can lead to acute kidney failure.


Cats and some dogs love playing with Christmas decorations and this can lead to serious problems. Decorations can be swallowed and lead to intestinal obstructions, which may need surgery. Even tinsel can be dangerous if swallowed, as can string bags full of chocolates, the string around the ham bone and even baubles! Chewing the christmas lights can cause electrocution.


Fatty foods like barbeque scraps, turkey skin or pork crackling can lead to gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea, and more seriously. pancreatitis. Major signs of pancreatitis are lethargy, poor appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. Despite the temptation to share these tasty treats with your pet, it’s important to avoid them and let them stick to their normal diet.

You may already know that your pet is scared of fireworks from previous years or you may have a new pet and this could be their first experience of fireworks.

Fireworks are a key part of seasonal celebrations, including Bonfire Night, Diwali and New Year’s Eve. While they can be fun for us, our pets tend to have a different view; 40% of pet owners say their pet is scared of fireworks, according to the charity PDSA. In some cases, the fireworks season can leave some pets traumatised.