Top 10 Festive Hazards for Pets

It’s that time of year when everyone is spreading the joy and love. Being a nation of pet lovers, we can’t leave our pets out. But in some cases, you may be doing more harm than good where your pet is concerned.


Vets now has released the top 10 festive hazards for pets –

  • 1. Chocolate 

· Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine – a bit like caffeine – that’s severely poisonous to cats and dogs

  • 2. Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings 

* All grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are toxic to dogs, as are the foods that contain them

  • 3. Blue Cheese 

· Contains a substance called Roquefortine C which dogs are extremely sensitive to

  • 4. Tinsel 

· Dogs eat tinsel like we eat spaghetti. It can cause dangerous blockages in the stomach

  • 5. Salt Dough Ornaments 

· The mix of flour and salt with water can cause a potentially fatal salt toxicosis if ingested by any pet

  • 6. Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Ivy 

· All mildly toxic to both cats and dogs

  • 7. Wrapping Paper 

· While toxicity is low, eating a large amount of paper could cause an obstruction in the stomach

  • 8. Snow Globes 

· Imported versions can contain antifreeze. As little as one tablespoon can be fatal for a cat

  • 9. Candles 

· Can burn the paws and curious noses of our furry friends. Their tails can also knock them over, which could mean (trouble for your) curtains

  • 10. Alcohol 

· Can cause severe liver and brain damage. As little as one tablespoon can lead to problems for your cat or dog


Cats and dogs were recently treated to one night in ‘Pet Heaven’ by Vets Now, the out-of-hours emergency vet provider. The experience was created to help raise awareness of the increased danger pets face at Christmas.  Vets Now sees a 41% increase in pet emergencies during the holidays. It was also found in a survey conducted that worryingly, one in two pet owners don’t have an emergency plan – they don’t know what they’d do if their pet fell ill over Christmas.

Did you know? 

* A third of pet owners will experience an emergency over Christmas.3

* 62% of Vets Now cases4 are caused by pets eating novelty festive items

* 9 in 10 poisonings happen while the pet is in its own home5

* 5.5m of dog owners unknowingly feed their pets harmful foods at Christmas.


While these stories may seem humorous, pets eating tons of chocolate or mince pies and other festive products could create a pet emergency.

To mark the beginning of this busy time of year, Vets Now emergency staff have divulged the weirdest and wackiest cases to come through their practices at Christmas time.

1. Jealous of his owner’s Christmas dinner – a 7 year old Labrador devoured a block of stilton, an entire pack of six Mince Pies, a Christmas Pudding and a box of chocolates, all in one sitting.

2. A 13 year old Jack Russell managed to glue his mouth shut after scoffing a Christmas cracker and toy playing cards, inadvertently making a paper maiche – it really was a silent night.

3. Intrigued by the twinkling fairly lights, a one year old kitten ascended the Christmas tree to see if these sparkly objects were in fact new toys, unfortunately she ended up with scorched paws, a burnt tongue and consequently no Christmas dinner.

4. Emergency surgery had to be performed on a 5 year old Cocker Spaniel after it ingested an entire bath towel which was wrapped round a turkey. Luckily, the spaniel made a full recovery, but the veterinary surgeon is still left wondering why the turkey was wrapped in a bath towel?!

5. Cats can be clumsy, as one cat proved last Christmas when he knocked over a snow globe, and either curious to have a taste, or just trying to clear up the mess he made, the cat ingested some of the liquid inside, resulting in a very poorly pet and an emergency trip to the vets.

To protect pets – and make sure heaven stays a place on earth for them this Christmas – Vets Now are calling on owners to download a free pet emergency plan from

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