30 Oathall Road

Haywards Heath 

West Sussex

RH16 3EQ

01444 440224



Emergencies for our registered Clients : 



Mon - Fri: 08:00 – 19:00
Sat: 08:30 – 13:00


VAT Reg. No. 760 1736 42

Top Tips for a Pet Safe Christmas

Christmas time can be fun for all the family, including our pets as long as we make sure to keep them away from the seasonal dangers that can emerge at this time of year. Read on for some top tips on how to make your Christmas pet-friendly.

Christmas cake and pudding (grapes)

Christmas cake and Christmas pudding usually contain large amounts of dried fruit, including raisins, sultanas and currants, all of which are forms of dried grapes. Grapes, whether dried or fresh, are toxic to dogs (potentially to cats and ferrets too) and can cause fatal kidney disease. The toxic substance in grapes is unknown, and the toxic dose appears to vary for each individual. For example, one dog may ingest quite a number of grapes and show no signs of illness whereas a different dog may ingest just a few and be very unwell. It is therefore important to contact us immediately if your pet has eaten any grapes, raisins, sultanas or currants at all.


Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which, when ingested at toxic doses, can cause a variety of problems for our pets. Signs of toxicity range from vomiting and diarrhoea through to seizures and even death. If you suspect your pet has eaten any chocolate, call us straight away. It is helpful to let us know the type of chocolate and the amount you think your pet has eaten so that we can advise you on whether this amount is likely to be toxic.

Christmas dinner leftovers

The smell of a delicious Christmas dinner must be tempting to our pets, and some just cannot resist! Scavenging of leftovers and food waste can be a problem during the Christmas season. Ingestion of rich, fatty foods can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Swallowing bones can lead to obstruction of the oesophagus or intestines and severe constipation. Onions, leeks and garlic are also toxic to dogs and cats. Keep your leftovers, food waste and rubbish bags well out of the way of those curious noses.

Christmas decorations and toys

Many new and interesting objects appear in the house around Christmas time. Toys, presents and baubles are prime chewing targets for inquisitive dogs, with pieces that can be broken off and swallowed causing damage or blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. Cats in particular are fans of ribbons and tinsel which, if swallowed, can become lodged in the intestines causing what is known as a ‘linear foreign body’ where the intestines bunch up around the object. These conditions can be life threatening and often require surgery. Let us know as soon as possible if you think your pet may have swallowed an object.

Christmas plants

Some ‘Christmassy’ plants, such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettia, can be toxic to our pets. It is important to keep these plants out of reach of animals to avoid ingestion and to call us ASAP if they do get hold of some.

Anti-freeze (ethylene glycol)

Many antifreeze products contain a toxic substance called ethylene glycol. These products also often have a sweet flavour, which can be attractive to pets. Toxicity is particularly common in cats due to their outdoor lifestyle allowing access to sources of anti-freeze more regularly, for example from vehicle leaks. Ingestion of even a small amount of ethylene glycol can be very serious as it rapidly causes acute kidney failure resulting in death, or requiring euthanasia. Once symptoms, such as vomiting, wobbliness or excessive drinking, are seen, the irreversible kidney damage is done and cannot be treated. If you see your cat or dog ingesting antifreeze, let us know as a matter of emergency. Immediate treatment before symptoms develop can be successful in some cases.

Rock salt/road salt

Rock salt helps to keep us safe from slips on our winter walks, but it can be hazardous to our pets. Some pets suffer from irritation of the paws by the salt. Others may lick the salt from the paws, putting themselves at risk of salt toxicity. Washing the paws with warm water after winter road walks can help to avoid these risks.

Unwelcome guests

Christmas can be a good reason to host a party or gathering. Whilst some pets may revel in the extra attention that this brings, some may find the noise and disturbance to their routine stressful. It can be helpful to provide a den or hiding place in a quiet room for your pet to retreat to where they will be left undisturbed. We may be able to advise you on some products that can help to reduce stress too – make an appointment to chat about this.

Outdoor pets

Whilst we are cosy indoors over the winter, don’t forget your pets outside. Rabbits and guinea pigs are often housed in outdoor enclosures over the summer months and it is important to make provisions to keep them safe and warm over the winter. An insulated shed or outbuilding with a spacious indoor hutch and run is ideal. Provide plenty of bedding to keep them cosy, check their water to make sure it isn’t freezing and, in the coldest months, consider using a pet-safe microwaveable heat pad.

Following these tips can help to keep your pet safe, put your mind at ease and keep this Christmas a happy one for all the family.