Winter Holiday Pet Poison Awareness

It is that time of year when we start thinking about putting up our Christmas tree, hanging mistletoe and drinking mulled wine. But did you know the Christmas holidays are one of the most busy times of year for Veterinary services? This is mostly down to our pets ingesting seasonal plants, food and decorations which are toxic to them. Here are the main Christmas culprits and how to avoid a poorly pooch or puss over the holiday period.


  • Mistletoe and Holly berries. These are toxic to pets and can cause gastrointestinal upset and even heart arrhythmias if ingested.
  • Lillies. Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, Easter and theDay Lilly are all hugely toxic to cats and can cause death through acute kidney failure. All parts of the Lilly are poisonous so they are best avoided if you have feline friends.
  • Poinsettia plants. The Poinsettia is, in fact, only very mildly toxic but it can in some dogs and cats cause gastrointestinal upset.


Holiday Foods:

  • Foods containing grapes, raisins and currants (such as fruitcakes or Christmas pudding) can result in kidney failure in dogs even in tiny quantities.
  • Chocolate and cocoa based products contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
  • Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
  • Leftover, fatty meat scraps can cause severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) leading to severe abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.



  • Tinsel/Angel Hair. Whilst non-toxic this can cause very serious life-threatening injury to your cats and dogs if ingested. It can get lodged in the gastric tract and in severe cases has been known to perforate the intestines requiring immediate life saving surgery
  • Liquid Potpourri. In cats just a few licks can result in severe chemical burns to the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors.
  • Imported Snow Globes. These have been found to contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze) which is hugely toxic to dogs and cats if ingested, and requires immediate treatment with an antidote.
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