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The poisoned pets come in Chocolate

With Christmas fast approaching you're no doubt looking forward to enjoying all the trimmings that come with it - stuffing, turkey, roast potatoes and chocolate. Often it's tempting to share these tasty treats with your pets, but did you know that one of the options mentioned will kill your dog or cat?

If you chose Chocolate, then you were correct - it can be extremely poisonous to both cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate (i.e. more cocoa content) the worse it is. The problem is caused by theobromine, which is found in chocolate, as well as in a number of other foods, including the leaves of the tea plant and the kola nut. Dogs and cats metabolize theobromine more slowly compared to humans and can get poisoned from as little as 50 grams of milk chocolate.

Even very small amounts of chocolate can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, depression, seizures and heart attacks. So remember to let your guests know to save the chocolate for themselves to keep your animals safe.

It's also important to plan ahead; I'll bet that underneath almost every Christmas tree there are a few kilograms of chocolate. Dogs with their keen sense of smell can detect the delicious aroma of chocolate through the wrapping paper, and it takes an incredibly well behaved pooch to just ignore all of that temptation! Wherever possible, try and keep chocolate gifts out of reach before Christmas day and keep an eye on your pooch when the mayhem commences.

Chocolate isn't the only thing to watch out for - you should avoid giving your pets fruit cake, grapes and raisins. These can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but more seriously, they can lead to kidney failure as soon as 48 hours after ingestion.

Whilst cats are generally more sensible and not interested in sweet flavours, they can still come unstuck during Christmas due to the many choking hazards lying around such as string and ribbon. If ingested, it can lead to intestinal blockage, which would require a lengthy trip to the vets.

Other dangers around the home are hidden in the beauty of the decorative flowers. Lilies, Holly and Mistletoe are all poisonous if eaten, and should be avoided if possible.

If you know of, or suspect ingestion of any toxin or toy you must call your vet as soon as possible. The faster treatment can start, the more likely your pet is to survive.

By following these simple tips, you can be sure of a very enjoyable Christmas with your four legged friends!

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