Festive Hazards: Making sure your Dog has a Happy Christmas


The festive season is a time to relax and enjoy a break with family and friends. But it’s also important to remember a few simple things to ensure that your dog can be part of your celebrations without causing them any stress or problems.

Chocolate toxicity is one of the most common poisonings we see at our Emergency Hospitals, usually through misguided kindness or your dog getting into the Christmas treats you’ve bought! Chocolate contains a powerful stimulant called theobromine that pets cannot cope with. We see dogs with tremors, diarrhoea and fitting, sometimes as a result of a very small amount of chocolate and in extreme cases it can be fatal. At Christmas, there is often a lot of chocolate around at home and it’s critical that all family members and visitors know it mustn’t be given as a treat. Pets have a habit of pinching unattended sweets, food and treats, so please keep them out of harm’s way.

“Inappropriate” diet is also another common cause of a trip to the vets on Boxing Day. If a dog has a well-balanced pet food for 364 days a year, “Christmas Dinner” can sometimes be a shock to the system. We see many pets with an upset stomach because “he enjoyed his turkey and stuffing” or even “she really loves a bit of Christmas pudding and brandy butter”. Grapes, including raisins and sultanas, can be toxic, causing kidney failure, so Christmas Cake is another hazard. There are plenty of treats specifically designed for dogs and these are a much better alternative and make a lovely stocking filler to go with any toys that Santa may bring them.

If you’re travelling with your dog to see friends and family, it’s also good to do a little planning and preparation. Make sure you have all the medications your dog might need, or if your dogs are going into kennels, make sure their vaccines are up to date. Long journeys in cars can be stressful for dogs so it’s important they don’t get too hot and they have access to water from time to time. A safe place to stop and stretch the legs is useful for dogs on a long journey and will prevent any accidents in the car.

Lastly, if New Years Eve fireworks are on the agenda, or you’re having a party with lots of people, popping champagne bottles and music that may make your dog nervous, we have a range of products to help your dog cope with the stress, ranging from over the counter calming products or prescribed medicines and offer behavioural advice when necessary.

A few simple precautions can help everyone enjoy the holiday period including your dog. Our 24-hour hospitals are always there for advice and help if you need it, just call 0845 500 4247. But being aware of, and avoiding, the risks can make sure you don’t need to visit us.

From all the staff at Village Vet, we wish you and your dog a very Happy Christmas!