Cautionary “tails” for Christmas!

kamilla2There are many commitments over Christmas that demand our time and attention. But we should make sure pets are high up on our list of priorities, or we may get a surprise on Christmas morning that we hadn’t bargained for!

Veterinary Surgeon Kamilla De Oliveira (right) has some tales from her time spent working at Harmsworth Animal Hospital over the festive period. It might make you think twice about the treats you share with your beloved pets and encourage you to be a little more careful about what you leave lying around at this time of year!

Working in a busy charity hospital we come across unusual medical cases every day. However, around Christmas we can guarantee we’ll get some that are unfortunately  typical for this time of year.

Every year during the festive period pet owners are busy buying and wrapping presents, sorting the tree and partying with friends, family and work colleagues. This can leave pets feeling forgotten and sometimes this means they get up to mischief!

Chocolate catastrophe

Image: Matt Deavenport / Flickr

For example, last year a distressed owner arrived at Harmsworth with his Labrador-cross who had eaten a large chocolate cake in its entirety. Apparently the owner had briefly left it unattended and Dave the dog managed to seize the opportunity to hoover the whole thing up!

I was amazed when I saw the size of the cake – the owner had brought the box in and also showed me a picture on his mobile phone. It was indeed huge and as you may know – chocolate is toxic to dogs!

Luckily this owner sought veterinary advice very quickly and his pet was admitted to the hospital where we induced vomiting and kept him on fluids and under observation overnight. I’m pleased to say that in this case the dog made a full recovery.

We’ve also had a few cases of dogs eating Christmas puddings and biscuits containing sultanas, raisins and macadamia nuts which are known to be poisonous to them. We are trying to make people aware of this so they don’t feed dogs anything containing these items – and ask them to make sure they keep an eye on what’s left on the table!

Tinsel trauma

Image: Kristi Welton-Kidder / Flickr

It’s also very common at this time of year for animals to eat unusual foreign objects, as happened to Molly one Christmas. She was a very curious and active young cat whose favourite trick was climbing the tree and chasing pieces of tinsel.

One day she started being sick, which led to lethargy then a lack of appetite. Molly was admitted to Harmsworth to investigate the issue, which confirmed a linear foreign body and blockage.

She had swallowed some tinsel from the tree and ended up having to have emergency surgery to remove it. Luckily the surgery went well and Molly was able to go home after a few days. I wouldn’t advise using tinsel to play with your cat in case they develop a taste for it!

Bothersome bones

Have you decided what to give to your dog as present for Christmas? I hope you haven’t ordered a bone from your local butchers!

One of the most common cases we see at this time of year is ingestion of bones which can fragment and cause serious problems like constipation, vomiting, blockage and perforation which may lead to death.

Last year at Harmsworth we had to perform emergency surgery on both dogs and cats because they’d eaten bones. So while you’re sleeping off your dinner – try to hide any tempting leftovers from animals who might take the opportunity to treat themselves!

We hope you’ll remember and share this advice with fellow animal lovers and above all have a fantastic and stress-free Christmas with your beloved pets!

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Last year we dispensed 153,605 medical treatments to animals in our care.

We spent £40.1 million on our veterinary services and animal centres in 2015 – all thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

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