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Festive food, gifts proving fatal for pets

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Sarah McPhee

Ham off the bone and hot summer weather may be perks of an Australian Christmas but they are no treat for pets.

Veterinarian Leonie Richards, from the University of Melbourne, says the festive season can prove dangerous for animals and lead to disaster.

Many can experience digestive problems after swallowing objects such as baubles and tinsel while others suffer heat stroke after hours in the sun.

Holiday spreads made up of onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, avocados, chocolate and fatty foods such as pork crackling should be off the list for pets.

Macadamia nuts can cause neurological problems in dogs while cooked bones can obstruct an animal's intestine and require surgery, Dr Richards said.

"If you need to give your pet a Christmas treat, pet stores normally have harmless toys or treats," she said.

People should also be wary of gifting flowers or tech gadgets with small parts to pet owners.

"If cats eat lilies they can die of kidney failure," Dr Richards said.

"We also had a ferret that kept swallowing its owner's ear plugs."

She said while owners are often preoccupied at Christmas, they should ensure their pets have cool water and a shady spot to rest, and preferably keep them inside on days over 30C.

Small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs are particularly prone to getting heat stroke with heavy panting, drooling and staggering all signs of trouble.

"Someone brought in their two rabbits suffering from heat stroke and they both died."

Dr Richards advised those going away on holidays or who know their pets fear fireworks to seek veterinary attention for any last minute vaccinations or calming medication.

For those who want to give pets as a present, they are advised to consider the long-term implications.

"It's a lovely gift if that's what you have really thought about and planned. They're with you for many years so it is a huge commitment," Dr Richards said.

WHAT NOT TO GIVE YOUR PET FOR CHRISTMAS

* Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, even in small quantities

* Avocados and macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs

* Fatty foods like pork crackling, turkey skin and sausages can cause life-threatening pancreatitis

* Onions and garlic can cause gastric irritation and anaemia

* Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure, while lilies have the same effect on cats

* Christmas decorations and cooked bones can obstruct the intestine and require surgery.

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