Lower your stress levels over Christmas

How? Well going to bed at 9pm on Christmas Eve and not getting up until Boxing Day might work, but let’s face it – your husband / wife / kids / dogs / cats / horses / inlaws [delete as appropriate] aren’t going to let that happen!

Having taken the emergency phone over Christmas many times, I can honestly say “The dog’s eaten …” is our most common call. 90% of the time no treatment is required, unlike other callouts I’ve had (suspected Foot and Mouth, twisted stomachs et al), but it leads to stress for the caller when they should be enjoying themselves.

I sympathise with the concerned owner of said hungry dog. A few years ago our two lurchers and Jack Russel:
-stole the turkey carcass,
-ate the meringues
-and peed up the Christmas tree
whilst we were having Christmas at Angela’s parents!

This post was prompted by an email from the British Veterinary association. “There are several substances toxic to pets which are found in the home during the Christmas period. Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning, especially in dogs, but it is also toxic to other species, for example cats, rodents and rabbits. Other items include sweets and liquorice which are often given as Christmas gifts; raisins and sultanas used to make Christmas cakes, mince pies and Christmas puddings; grapes; onions and garlic; Blu-tack used to put up cards and decorations; and antifreeze, which is often used in the winter months.

Festive homes also contain additional hazards for pets such as electrical cables powering Christmas tree lights, which could be very dangerous if chewed; wrapping and bows from presents; decorations such as tinsel which might be ingested or broken glass baubles which could cause injury.
[…] The BVA also warns that noise and excitement at Christmas time can cause animals to get nervous and stressed so pets will need a safe haven where they can go for peace and quiet. If you are travelling away from home do ensure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar and identification tag so it can be easily reunited with you should it become lost.”

All excellent advice. They go on to give a handy list of what you might look out for:
1. Substances which can be poisonous to pets include:
* Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
* Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake recipes)
* Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
* Xylitol-sweetened foods
* Sweets
* Other foods such as onions, avocados and grapes
* Alcohol
* Plants including lilies (and daffodils)
* Cleaning and DIY products eg white spirit and lubricating oils
* Car anti-freeze
* Human medicines
2. Substances with low toxicity that could cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea include:
* Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
* Charcoal and coal
* Cut-flower and houseplant food
* Expended polystyrene foam (used for large present packing eg stereos/TVs)
* Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia (common Christmas plants/decorations)
* Matches
* Wax candles and crayons
* Silica gel (found in packaging)

Everything is poisonous, it’s just the dose that counts! So, as always, if they’ve eaten anything in (1), a quick call to us will establish if you need to be concerned. What might be OK in a Great Dane might not in a tiny terrier, and cats have some very odd reactions to substances dogs and humans would take in their stride (it’s all to do with their very specialist carnivorous metabolisms).

THE BIG ONE- how much chocolate is safe?
The quick answer is don’t feed chocolate to dogs! It’s the theobromine in chocolate that’s toxic. In general 100-150mg/kg of theobromine is needed to cause a toxic reaction
– Milk chocolate contains 150mg theobromine per 100g – i.e. it’s poisonous at 100g per kg of dog
– Dark chocolate can contain 1500mg theobromine per 100g – i.e. it’s poisonous at 10g per kg of dog
So a 20kg Labrador needs around 2kg of milk chocolate to be poisoned, whereas only 50g of dark chocolate would poison a 5kg Yorkshire Terrier.

These are the minimum fatal doses- play it safe and ring the vet if they’ve eaten more than 25% of the toxic dose i.e. more than 25g per kg milk chocolate, or 2.5g per kg dark chocolate

Finally a brief round up of “some things Mansion Hill pets have eaten”:
– a fence panel
– light bulb
– bluetooth earpiece and battery
– batteries on their own
– a 1 meter Toblerone (by a very hungry 15kg Whippet)
– pack of paracetamol in a locked drawer out of reach… by same said Whippet!
– rat poison. Seems to be the favoured poison this year, especially stuff from the 60s found in old sheds
– fatty skins (e.g. turkey/ chicken). Can cause pancreatitis which can be nasty
– virtually every kind of toy imaginable

You’ll be happy to hear all culprits are still with us.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

John, Angela, Ruth, Lin, Stacey, Zoe, Sara and Tess