Summer Hazards

Don't end up at the vet this Xmas

Summer Hazards*

Summer is upon us and with it comes ticks, fleas and allergies - as most pet owners would know.

It is also a time of thunderstorms and fireworks and our pet's phobias, heat stress, hot spots and increased activity of some of our creepy crawlies like snakes. But I thought I'd concentrate on Christmas Day and its potential dangers

I suppose the first the first thing to consider, or reconsider, is a pet as a present. A pet, particularly as a surprise present, is not always appreciated. It is a commitment for up to 10 to 20 years – longer for some birds. The RSPCA is inundated with unwanted pets especially around Christmas. Not everyone has that commitment or time or money or stability in their lives to take on a pet

Think very carefully about pets as gift

We want them to be loved for life

The Christmas Tree

Glass baubles can be broken and cut feet

Some cats, (particularly kittens) like to climb the tree – make sure it's stable

Tinsel is seen by some pets as great to play with, but eating it can cause vomiting and/or blockages

Christmas tree lights can be chewed and cause electrocution and burns


Small toys and parts thereof are easily swallowed, especially by puppies, potentially causing blockages of the gastrointestinal tract

String is particularly attractive to cats and if swallowed acts like a drawstring for the gut causing blockages and potentially peritonitis

Christmas Dinner/Lunch

Fatty food, ham, pork, bacon can initiate a case of pancreatitis – a painful and potentially fatal problem

Fruit cake, pudding, fruit salad – as little as 1% grapes, sultanas and raisins can cause kidney failure. The seeds of stone fruit can get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract

Chocolate – the darker the more toxic. It causes problems with the heart and nervous system

Nuts – macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs (vomiting, depression, high temperature, wobbliness and tremors) and many other nuts are large enough to get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract

BBQs – the hot plate or hot food can be a source of burns of the mouth, muzzle or nose and feet - jumping on the plate

Onions cause blood problems

Sausages – another fatty food that's often an initiating factor in pancreatitis

Cooked bones can get stuck anywhere from the mouth to the rectum - constipation

Skewers can penetrate the gut wall if eaten

Fat dripped on gravel around the BBQ can lead to the pet eating the gravel - I've seen it


Overeating +/- exercise can lead to bloat – extremely dangerous and requires immediate veterinary attention


If it's a hot, sunny day be aware of sunburn and overheating/heat stress. Provide shade and plenty of water in multiple bowls

Sounds like a minefield, but it's just a matter of thinking ahead and being aware of your pet. They are part of your family

Have a great summer

*By Dr Libby Thompson