With Christmas being such a busy time of year, we want all pet owners to be aware of common Christmas hazards for pets.

“The two most common things we see are dogs developing a condition called pancreatitis from eating Christmas leftovers, and cats swallowing tinsel which can cause blockages in their intestines”, said Dr Braden Collins from the Bunbury and Eaton Vet Clinics.

“Christmas is a time of fun and family, so no-one wants to spend it in at the vets. By following a few basic principles, you can avoid your pet suffering a nasty illness” he said.

You should just feed your dog its normal food, and avoid the temptation to give it a few treats or scraps. Fatty foods that are typical of a Christmas lunch or dinner are the most common causes of pancreatitis, which is a very painful condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed. Animals with pancreatitis are often very unwell, with severe abdominal (belly) pain and vomiting. They often need hospitalisation for several days to overcome the condition.

Other foods commonly eaten around Christmas can also be poisonous to dogs, including onions, garlic, grapes, chocolate, macadamia nuts and nutmeg. The general rule is “if they don’t normally eat it, don’t let them eat it at Christmas”. If you really want to give your pet a special treat for Christmas, make sure it is a quality, nutritious treat from your vet or pet store.

Be aware of cats playing with Christmas decorations. We have seen several cases of cats playing with tinsel and then swallowing some. This can then bunch up in their intestine and requires surgery to remove it.

Please remember that some pets may get stressed with a lot of visitors coming to your house. This is especially true with cats. Make sure your pet has somewhere quiet and private it can go if it finds having a lot of people around is getting too much.

If your pet does become unwell over the Christmas period, you can still phone your normal vet for advice. They will either have a vet on call, or they will direct you to a vet who can see your pet.