BVA urges owners to ‘pet-proof’ festive food this Christmas

The BVA has urged pet owners to “pet-proof” their festive food in the run up to Christmas.

The warning comes after its Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey revealed that 80% of UK vets treated at least one case of toxic ingestion over the festive period last year.

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Toxic products for pets include chocolate, raisins, dried fruit commonly found in mince pies, xylitol, onion and garlic, as well as seasonal decorations such as mistletoe and holly.

Chocolate topped the surveys list of edible hazards for dogs, with 72% of vets reporting at least one case of chocolate poisoning over the Christmas break last year.

Some 63% of vets reported toxic ingestion of raisins, while 15% saw poisoning from onion or garlic.  

The BVA also said that the average number of toxic ingestion in dogs cases has steadily increased over the past five years. Cases of chocolate poisoning increased by 50% over this period, while cases of raisin poisoning almost doubled. 

Meanwhile, 17% of vets said they had treated cats for antifreeze poisoning last year, while 12% saw cats poisoned by seasonal plants such as lilies and poinsettia.

Tinsel and fairy lights also proved to be a hazard, with 28% of vets treating injuries caused by decorations last Christmas. 

BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: “Christmas is a time of fun and festivities, but the presents, treats and decorations can often prove dangerous for our pets if we are not careful.

“Festive foods like chocolate, raisins, xylitol and macadamia nuts, and decorations such as mistletoe and holly, can be toxic if eaten by dogs and cats, while Christmas tree baubles or tinsel can require surgery to remove.”

She added: “Our advice to owners is to keep festive goodies such as chocolate advent calendars, mince pies or Christmas puddings safely out of reach of inquisitive pets. 

“If you are concerned that they have eaten something they shouldn’t, consult your vet straight away.”

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