What is the biggest danger?
Feeding of cooked bones. It is very tempting to give the dog the remains of the Christmas roast or the chops from the barbi. Just remember cooked bones can and do kill.
Why are cooked bones so dangerous?
When they are cooked bones become very brittle and when the dog chews them they splinter into needle sharp pieces. These pieces can become stuck in the stomach or intestines and can perforate of the bowel.
Is that as serious as it sounds?
Yes, its life threatening. If the bowel becomes perforated the whole of the insides of the abdomen becomes infected. We call this peritonitis and it is one of the most life threatening conditions a dog can have.
What can you do?
We have to do emergency surgery to remove the bone, remove the damaged section of bowel and drain any pus present in the abdomen daily for several days. The dog is basically in intensive care with intravenous fluids and antibiotics for several days. The chances of survival are very much touch and go.
So are raw bones much safer?
Yes they are but there is still a risk that they can get stuck. Because the edges are less sharp there is a lower chance of peritonitis but many raw bones do get stuck in the intestines and we do have to surgically remove them.
Which are the safest bones?
The biggest raw ones you can get. Something the dog can chew on but not chew up and swallow. Cows thigh bones are ideal.
What other Christmas dangers are there?
They are mostly things that cats and dogs shouldn’t eat. Christmas meals often produce a lot of fatty left overs and the family pet often ends up being given these. Excessively fatty foods can cause pancreatitis which is inflammation of the pancreas. It is very painful and requires intensive care for about a week.
What other Christmas things shouldn’t pets eat?
Well the Christmas decorations are an obvious thing they shouldn’t eat but its surprising what a new puppy or kitten will eat. Decorations are often made of plastic which doesn’t show up on xrays so it can be difficult to diagnose. Kittens love playing with tinsel and if they eat it it will cause their intestines to bunch together in a tangled mess.
So the message is keep decorations out of reach of pets
Yes and that means don’t decorate the lower branches of Christmas trees.
What about chocolate, that’s poisonous for pets isnt it?
Well its certainly toxic in high doses but you don’t need to worry if your pet pinches a couple of chocolates. I certainly wouldn’t recommend giving them chocolates as treats though.
What harm does chocolate do?
It causes the same symptoms in dogs as a huge coffee overdose would do for us. The main concern is it speeds up the heart and if the heart is a bit dodgy anyway it can put enough strain on it to cause heart failure. A huge overdose of chocolate will cause nervous twitching and seizures and potentially death.
Are there any other things to avoid giving your pet at Christmas?
Hmm well any sane, rational person would avoid the next one that I am going to mention but there are a surprising number of people who don’t fit into that category.
I’m intrigued, what are you talking about?
There are a few people out there that think their pet dog would love to share their illicit supply of cannabis. For some reason this happens mostly around this time of year. Sometimes the dog has pinched it accidentally but I have certainly had people who have given it on purpose thinking their dog would enjoy the experience!
Wow that’s just crazy. What happens to the dogs?
They freak out. They hallucinate and must be scared out of their wits as they have no idea what is happening to them. They cant walk straight and can become aggressive with fear. It does eventually wear off but it really is a cruel thing to do to an animal.
So the take home message really is just use common sense this Christmas
Absolutely and I would like to wish all our listeners and customers of the Vet Centre a very merry Christmas and a happy and hopefully more prosperous new year.
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