Leading vets are urging pet owners to watch out for potential hazards to their pets this Christmas.\r\n\r\nFindings released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal that 80 percent of vets saw at least one case of toxic ingestion in pets during the last festive period.\r\n\r\nAcross the UK, chocolate poisoning in dogs was the most common cause of toxic ingestion at Christmas. 73 percent of vets saw at least one case.\r\n\r\nSeveral vets in BVA\u2019s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey said that, despite owners\u2019 best intentions, their pets had been poisoned after gifts containing chocolate were placed under the Christmas tree. The owner was unaware of the potential peril for their pet lurking beneath the wrapping.\r\n\r\nMany cats also suffered toxic ingestion last Christmas. A quarter of vets treated cats for antifreeze poisoning. A further one in five vets also treated cats for ingestion of poisonous plants, including lilies, which can be fatal.\r\n\r\nLily and other pollens can get stuck on cats\u2019 fur and are usually ingested, accidentally, when they groom themselves. Ingesting any part of the lily can result in life threatening kidney issues for cats. Curious cats may also be tempted to sample the new house plants\u2019 berries, such as holly or mistletoe, which can also lead to stomach upsets and vomiting.\r\n\r\nBritish Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz, told pet owners: \u201cChristmas is typically a fun and chaotic time, with presents and treats often arriving in our homes.\r\n\r\n"Many pet owners are aware of the risks of chocolate poisoning to their pets but, as our survey shows, it\u2019s easy to be caught out by a box of chocolates left on the side that curious animals can find hard to resist. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn\u2019t then don\u2019t delay in contacting your local vet.\u201d\r\nTop festive tips\r\nTo keep Christmas merry for the whole household, BVA is urging animal-lovers to ensure their home is safe for four-legged friends by following these five simple tips:\r\n\r\n \tProtect pets from poisons \u2013 a number of festive treats and traditions, such as chocolate, raisins, xylitol (found in sugar free treats), nuts, grapes, liquorice, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are toxic to cats and dogs.\r\n \tKeep decorations out of reach \u2013 ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can all prove irresistible to cats and dogs but can be very dangerous if broken, chewed or swallowed. Batteries for Christmas gifts also need to be kept safe as, if ingested, they may cause severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach.\r\n \tForget festive food for pets \u2013 we all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas, but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn\u2019t be shared. They can trigger indigestion, sickness and diarrhoea or even conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis, so try to stick to the pet\u2019s regular diet and routine. Bones, including turkey bones, should not be given to pets as they can splinter and puncture the digestive tract.\r\n \tGive toys not treats \u2013 we all want pets to share the fun and many include a gift for our pet on the shopping list. But too many treats can lead to fat, unhappy animals so consider opting for a new toy, or a long walk if owners want to indulge pets this Christmas.\r\n \tKnow where to go \u2013 even with all the care in the world, animal accidents and emergencies can still happen. Owners can make sure they're prepared by checking their vet\u2019s emergency cover provision and holiday opening hours or, if they are away from home, using the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons\u2019 Find a Vet facility at\u00a0http:\/\/www.findavet.org.uk\/.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nFor more information on pets and poisons download the free Animal Welfare Foundation \u2018pets and poisons\u2019 leaflet at www.bva-awf.org.uk\/pet-care-advice\/pets-and-poisons.