Christmas Hazards



Christmas can be a busy and chaotic time with large quantities of food and presents left unattended. Curious pets, particulary dogs, may investigate and eat gifts (including edible ones) left under the tree, food in the kitchen or chew on plants decorating the house.




CHOCOLATE contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromide differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it).
Theobromide mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms will occur from 4-24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate and will vary depending on the amount of chocolate (theobromine) your dog has eaten.

If your dog has eaten chocolate, you may see:



Vomiting (may include blood)
Restlessness and hyperactivity
Rapid breathing
Muscle tension, incoordination
Increased heart rate

Please contact us if your dog eats any chocolate or if you see any signs as soon as you can

Onions, Garlic, Chives and Leeks,

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal (stomach and gut) irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed.


Onions are particularly toxic and signs of poisoning occur a few days after your dog has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness.





The poinsettia plant’s brightly coloured leaves contain a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and oesophagus. If the leaves are ingested, they will often cause nausea and vomiting.

Christmas Tree Pine Needles and Decorations.
Most christmas trees and decorations are now being put up.
Most species are low toxicity but may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) if chewed. Tinsel and decorations can cause intestinal blockages if eaten and your pet may get a nasty shock if they chew through the electrical cable for your Christmas lights.
Please make sure your pets are safe and contact us if you are worried.

Alcohol and Antifreeze


Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas


These cause kidney failure in dogs, and potentially other animals too. The toxic mechanism is not understood and the quantity that can cause problems seems to be very variable. Some dogs have eaten large amounts and developed no effects, while others have gone into kidney failure after ingesting a small number of raisins or grapes. Even ingestion of cooked fruits in fruit cake (e.g. Christmas cake) or Christmas pudding can cause kidney failure.




These are very poisonous to cats and can cause kidney failure. Although the toxic mechanism is currently not understood, it appears that all parts of the plant are poisonous to cats. Indeed, even a small exposure to the pollen can be potentially very dangerous


Macadamia nuts.


Within 12 hours of ingestion macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (increased body temperature). These symptoms tend to last for approximately 12 to 48 hours, if you suspect your dog has consumed macadamia nuts please note the possible quantity consumed and contact us


Mouldy Food.

Innocent looking mould on food in rubbish bins and sacks can hold toxins which quickly attack a dog's nervous system. Incredibly small amounts of these mycotoxins can cause tremors and seizures. If you think your pets have eaten any mouldy food please contact us.



Ingestion of batteries is more common at this time of year. If the battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. If they are swallowed whole it is possible they will cause a blockage. All batteries are potentially toxic so if you suspect your dog has chewed or swallowed a battery please contact us.

Our Surgeries


 Daleside Veterinary Surgery

309-311 Liverpool Road




Tel: 01704 575606


Churchside Veterinary Surgery

5a Preston New Road




Tel: 01704 225105


Formby Veterinary Surgery

113 Church Road



L37 3ND

Tel: 01704 877145


Maghull Veterinary Surgery

55 Liverpool Road South



L31 7BN

Tel: 0151 531 7719 

Out of Hours Emergency Cover

Barn Lodge Veterinary Hospital

54a Southport Road
L39 1LX

01695 572 837