Take care to avoid inadvertent poisoning and injury to your dog or cat. The following ten are very common -

1. Cats love playing with tinsel. If they swallow it, the thread through it can cut through the bowel after the tinsel becomes stuck in the stomach. This is due to the stretchy nature of the puckered tinsel and when the backing thread becomes taught, it becomes straight, but the bowel is convoluted, so the thread puts pressure on the bends and can cut all the way through. Symptoms are usually dullness pain and vomiting. 

2. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Solid dark chocolate is the main culprit and a dog can die due to poisoning from the theobromine within. Keep those chocolate coins safe! Boxes of chocolates are less of a problem because the filings are OK and the chocolate is thin, but please avoid access. Problems often arise from a greedy dog sniffing out wrapped chocolates and eating the lot!

3. Cats (and dogs) like the sweet taste of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) and this will destroy their kidneys. Avoid access.

4. Grapes are toxic to dogs and even more so when they are concentrated as in raisins and sultanas when they are in Christmas cakes, mince pies and good old black-bun!

5. Lilies look lovely but they kill cats! Leaves and flowers are very poisonous though we see most illness from self-grooming after contact with the pollen. Kidneys rapidly become damaged and death is due to kidney failure.

6. Macadamia nuts are very toxic to dogs causing muscle weakness and a rise in temperature with illness later. They appear to affect the nervous system.

7. Bones in general can cause blockages, mainly in dogs (gannets!) and even cause damage to the bowel, so keep that turkey out of reach! We don't recommend feeding bones at all, because of the frequent problems we see, associated with their ingestion.

8. Batteries, if swallowed can cause a blockage, chemical burns and heavy-metal poisoning.

9. Onions, garlic, chives and leeks belong to the Allium family and they are poisonous to both dogs and cats, causing anaemia, gut upset and weakness some days later. Most are not silly enough to eat these, but don't leave lying around just in case.

10. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener and is toxic to dogs, reducing blood sugar and damaging the liver. Commonest cases are when a dog eats a pack of sugar-free chewing gum, but a lot of other sweet products may contain this.

Keep your pets safe during the holidays