Christmas treats could harm your pet

Pet owners urged to be wary

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 13:50 12/12/2012
Ruby
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ
DECK THE PAWS: Ruby the pug/gryffn-cross, will be celebrating her first Christmas this year but will be staying away from the ham after a Waikato vet warned against giving family pets special treats from the table of festive spoils.

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Pets dining out on Christmas ham could be left with more than just a full belly this festive season.

Sarah Fuller from the Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital says pet owners often treat their four-legged friends to a special Christmas treat.

But all too often those treats include fatty and salty cuts of pork, sharp bones and other nasties that can harm or even kill your pet.

''Pork contains a lot of salt, which affects the kidneys, and ham, pork and other fatty meats are well known to cause pancreatitis in cats and dogs,'' Miss Fuller says.

And while most pet owners know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs in large doses, says Miss Fuller, there is another seasonal foodstuff that most people don't realise can be dangerous: the raisins in Christmas cake. 

''There is still some mystery about the precise poisonous component of grapes, and many dogs can eat them with no ill effects,'' she says.

''But once in a while, a dog dies of renal failure, and the only possible causative agent is an overdose of grapes or raisins.''

Human chocolate is poisonous because it has a toxin in it that only humans can break down, called Thiobromine.

''I saw way too many last year, when chocolates had been put under the tree as gifts, and dogs had eaten them, causing chocolate poisoning,'' Miss Fuller says. 

Onion is  out and so is garlic, long thought to be a good way to stop fleas.

''It is known to cause toxic reactions, so if you are thinking of giving the pot scrapings to the dog, be aware that it may get sick.''

Added to the banned list are avocados and guacamole, alcohol, grapes and macadamia nuts. 

Even the birds are not safe from the dangers of Christmas, she said. 

''Don't forget the birds, tinsel will possibly cause a heavy metal poisoning, so dont let your little birdies touch it.''

If you suspect your cat, dog or bird has eaten any of these things, please contact a vet as soon as possible, the earlier the better.

Naughty list:

- Ham or any pork products

- Poultry, especially cooked chicken and turkey bones

- Onion and garlic

- Chocolate

- Avocados and  guacamole

- Macadamia nuts

- Grapes and raisins

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