Be cruel to be kind this Christmas

We all know that painful feeling when sitting down to a delicious Christmas dinner, greedily digging into piles of turkey and pigs in blankets, luxury roast potatoes and heaps of buttery mash, while your dog makes puppy eyes from the corner of the room. A simple bowl of pet food doesn’t seem to cut it today.

Pet owners who are likely to give in to those pleading puppy dog eyes and include a turkey dinner in their pet’s festive menu on Christmas Day are being warned to think again, by PDSA.

The charity’s vets advise that if a medium-sized dog were to eat a full turkey dinner like ours, it would be the equivalent of a human eating three Christmas dinners in one go! Feeding fatty and unsuitable treats is fuelling the UK’s pet obesity epidemic, with one-in-three dogs and one-in-four cats now estimated to be overweight or obese.

These shocking facts could be very easy to ignore when families are overindulging over the festive period – ‘It’s Christmas, why shouldn’t the pets be spoilt rotten too?’

The problem is that these extra calories aren’t just bad for our pets’ waistlines, a significant amount of festive foods are poisonous to pets.

Elaine Pendlebury, PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, says: “Raisins, sultanas and onions are just three of the potentially poisonous foods that can affect cats and dogs, causing severe illness. Foods containing these items, such as stuffing, gravy, mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, should never be given to pets. It’s the salt and fat levels as well – not ideal for our pets!”

Other Christmas foods that can be toxic to pets are macadamia nuts and chocolate intended for humans. The effects of these foods vary, but can include shaking, heart and breathing problems as well as vomiting and diarrhoea.

Owners should also remember not to give their pets bones as these can be accidentally swallowed and cause a choking hazard. Bones don’t just get stuck in throats though – they can get lodged in other parts of a pet’s intestines. They can dangerously block a pet’s guts, a potentially fatal problem that often needs life-saving surgery. And never decide to go for a vigorous walk with your dogs after feeding them a big meal – that can lead to the potentially fatal condition called a ‘gastric torsion’ – where the stomach twists on itself.

In order to avoid a costly emergency trip to the vet this Christmas, PDSA is urging pet owners to resist the temptation to give pets human food and to just give them a healthy pet treat or a cuddle instead.

PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work.