Lollies & Sweets
Some lollies and sweets can contain artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol. Xylitol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, and severe cases can have seizures and develop liver failure. Not all lollies and sweets contain Xylitol, so it is important to check package labels and ingredients, and keep these treats away from pets.
Alcohols can have significant effects in dogs and cats, and may appear cute or funny but can be dangerous. Alcohol can cause confusion, weakness, wobbliness, vomiting, diarrhoea, low body temperature, and decreased blood pH (acidosis). This can occur if alcohol is ingested, but it can also be absorbed via the skin. Affected animals are treated with intravenous fluids and medications to manage nausea, and often require nursing care.
Dangerous Items Around the Home
Other items commonly found during the festive season may not cause toxicities, but can pose risks to the health of our pets.
Small toys are easily picked up and swallowed, and can cause stomach and intestinal obstructions, similar to nuts and stone fruits. The Silica Gel packets from new gifts can look like tasty treats for our pets, but if swallowed they will swell, and can cause stomach and intestinal obstructions or stomach upset.
Christmas decorations often seem like toys to our pets. Glass baubles can cause cuts if broken or bitten, and tinsel can cause intestinal obstruction in the form of a linear foreign body. A linear foreign body is when a long item, such as string, is not able to pass through the intestine normally, and instead causes the intestine to bunch up like a concertina. This can constrict the intestine and cause the tissue to die. Linear foreign bodies require abdominal surgery to be removed, and carry high risks for post-operative complications. These are often more complicated than simple obstructions like stones or bones.
Ribbon from gift wrappings can also cause linear foreign body obstructions.