As we enter December, plans are well under way for Christmas and we all look forward to the excesses of the Festive Period. There are, however, some seasonal problems we regularly see in pets at the surgery which need careful planning to avoid.

Bloat or “gastric dilatation and volvulus” to give it its full name, can occur when a dog eats a large meal then exercises. The heavy stomach swings back and forward as the dog exercises and can twist, blocking the entry and outflow. Then, fermentation in the stomach produces gas which can not escape and the stomach rapidly becomes distended. In a very short time, the damage to the stomach lining and the effects on the circulation can become life threatening. Always exercise your dog first then feed him, not the other way round. If you are concerned your dog may have bloat then you must seek urgent veterinary attention.

Turkey bones are another common festive hazard. Chewed bones produce very sharp shards which can puncture the stomach lining. Never give your dog turkey bones and always be careful when disposing of the bones to make sure a cat or a bird can’t tear open a bin bag exposing bones which your dog can then access.

Chocolates hanging on the tree or wrapped up under the tree just smell too tempting for many pets but cocoa is toxic to animals. Most chocolates these days have quite a low cocoa content but you should never allow your pet to eat human chocolate. Animal chocolates do not contain cocoa.

Tinsle hanging on the tree can catch our eye as it sparkles in the light of the Christmas Tree Lights. Animals love tinsle and puppies and kittens find it especially hard to resist chewing on tinsle. Last year I took lengths of tinsle out of the intestines of 2 separate animals and I can assure you that it looks much less appealing at that stage.