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Trusted By Experts Since 2004
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Christmas Dog Welfare by the Numbers, According to Neil the Vet

Christmas Dog Welfare by the Numbers, According to Neil the Vet

8th Dec 2023

It’s Christmas time, and we hope you have got lots of festive fun planned this year with your pups! We know lots of our customers love to spoil their dogs this time of year (as do we!), but let us get serious for just a moment to talk about the safety and welfare of your dogs at Christmas time. We spoke with Neil the Vet who agreed to write a guest blog for us about Christmas dog welfare, and he gave us some surprising statistics.

So, enough from us, over to Neil the Vet...

Neil the Vet - Neil McIntosh BVM&S MRCVS

Neil McIntosh BVM&S MRCVS - "trust me, I'm a vet"

They say that 43% of statistics are made up. My accountant friend tells me the other 74% are a bit dubious too. But you can trust me, I’m a vet…here is my festive round up.

Puppies + Christmas trees = chaos!

100% of Christmas trees are dangerous. Puppies, being easily impressed and conducive to new ideas, try to climb them, too often bringing the whole lot down on top of some poor unsuspecting guest. They chew the needles and these are particularly liable to cause gastric irritation. And there is more… Fairy lights are inevitably attached by exposed cables to an electrical supply and 18% of puppies will try and chew these. 100% of them will receive some form of injury. 22% will die. Around 18.56% will lose teeth and 45% will suffer burns to the mouth. It therefore follows that 100% of lights should be plugged into a circuit breaker. They cost little and provide huge peace of mind. They may also save more than your pet’s life.

Since 99% of trees are decorated, the danger just goes on and on. Puppies are attracted to shiny, dangly things, so tinsel can be played with before being inadvertently swallowed. 0% of the time this will result in (sorry!) tinselitis! 50% of the time this will result in the need for expensive surgery, which is not without risk. The unexpected anaesthetic death rate is 0.01% but this rises in the very young and the very old. Nobody needs that to happen. Baubles fall off the tree on 4.3% of the occasions that you brush past it. When they break, they leave tiny pieces that persist no matter how much you vacuum. These can penetrate pads leaving a limping pet. Removal of these sharp bits causes consternation in 100% of vets and 258% of owners resent the cost involved.

Keep Christmas presents out of paw's reach

Continuing the theme, 64% of presents nestling delightfully under the tree contain substances that are harmful to pets. 100% of dogs can smell chocolate through three layers of wrapping paper. Remember the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the risk. Treatment is not required for white chocolate (though it is terribly bad for your teeth). Ingestion of more than 9g of milk chocolate per kg of dog deserves attention, while dark chocolate can cause problems at only 1g per kg. Remember cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are even more potent. If in doubt, phone your vet and advise him of the quantity and type consumed. 100% of the time, he will be able to tell you if vomiting should be induced. A simple subcutaneous injection of apomorphine will be successful in 85% of patients.

In 31 of the last 32 Christmas periods (96.875%), our on-call vets have had to operate on dogs to remove foreign bodies that became stuck in the bowel. 56% of these were intended to be Christmas presents. They were never given. 22% were cooked bones of various origin (62% turkey) that should have been safely and securely binned after the meal was finished. 1% was a pair of rolled up football socks that a beagle swallowed on 25 th December. No kidding! He subsequently brought them back up on New Year’s Day. A great kick start to the year!

More foods that are toxic to dogs

Currantly(!) 100% of dog owners should remember that raisins and their ilk (grapes, currants, sultanas) can be highly toxic to dogs. Don’t forget that 98% of Christmas cakes contain more than enough raisins to kill a canine (the other 2% would not even be touched by the dog, let alone your visitors). Dogs that swallow any amount of raisins should be taken to a vet at once. Phone them to tell them you are on your way. Do not delay! They may look okay for a few days but many suffer fatal organ failure. 0.013% of people will ignore this advice and lose their dog before New Year.

Rumbling on, 64% of upset tummies in dogs are caused by simple dietary overload. 0% of normal people want to spend Boxing Day clearing up vomit and diarrhoea, so reduce food intake by 25%! And when you say they haven’t had anything unusual to eat, we can tell 100% of the time you are fibbing when the Brussel sprouts come back up…

Also don’t ignore the threat from onions, garlic and shallots, commonly present in a high % of gravy and stuffing. Initial signs of ingestion are tummy upsets, but severe anaemia can develop after a few days as the active ingredient, n-propyl disulphide, is toxic to red blood cells, turning them into useless things in the bloodstream which scientists call, remarkably, Heinz bodies.

Dogrobes for Christmas?

Remember too that 100% of dogs are warmer if they are wearing a good quality coat (ahem, Dogrobes are a great present). And 100% of salt and grit should be washed from dogs’ feet, especially if they are very hairy.

A happy Golden Retriever wearing a Red Dogrobe and a Santa hat

And finally, whilst you can’t believe absolutely everything you read, I would like to wish 100% of you and your pets a very, very happy and healthy Christmas!

Please don’t end up a statistic!

P.S. Are you one of the 0% of people who read this far?