Help your pet enjoy Christmas

Doug Paterson
Doug Paterson

Is it too early to be passing festive wishes? Some of my colleagues would say yes!

Nevertheless, the Christmas decorations are now up in our surgery and a distinctly seasonal feel has descended on the place. I even bought my dog a doggy advent calendar this year (yes we stock those) This brings me to a serious point: My dog’s advent calendar contains carob (AKA Doggie) chocolate. As many people know now, chocolate can be toxic to dogs.

There are so many temptations around at this time of year, the sights and smells are sometimes too much for an inquisitive pet to resist! I’ll summarise a couple of the common ones to watch for: chocolate, onions and garlic, raisins, avocado and lily flowers (this one for cats), and bones from a family roast.

Now, chocolate is a common concern, but is not necessarily serious. It depends on the amount and type of chocolate, and the size of dog that pinched it.

Dark chocolate is worse than milk, and solid bars are worse than fondant chocolate-coated treats (like Roses or Quality Street), and larger dogs in general can handle more than smaller dogs.

If in doubt, I would encourage a worried owner to call their vet and we can calculate whether there is likely to be a risk.

We will ask you the type and weight of chocolate your dog ate, and what size of dog he or she is, so it helps to have that information to hand.

Second one to really be aware of is bunches of flowers containing lilies. Lily pollen is VERY toxic to cats, and causes irreversible kidney failure. Lilies are known for dropping pollen around the vase, which a cat could walk on. Otherwise puss might brush up against the flowers on his or her way to catch a toy mouse. Either way the next thing that happens is puss cleans his or herself of the pollen, thereby swallowing it, and starting the ticking time-bomb. As a cat owner, I don’t even have lily flowers in the house - it’s not worth the risk. Perhaps give your neighbour a treat by passing them on if you end up getting some as a gift this year.

Remains to say I hope you all have a very happy Christmas! The surgery doesn’t stop, I am on call all over Christmas so will be saving my dram until Hogmanay, so will toast you all then.