Offices across Scotland may be winding down for Christmas, but the festive period marks one of the busiest times of year for vets.  

One of the only 24 hour pet hospitals in Scotland is preparing to see cases more than double over Christmas and New Year, as many pet owners are unaware of the harm standard festive items can cause to their beloved pets. 

From wrapping paper to chocolate, Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow's Charing Cross has prepared a guide for owners to recognise the risks and pet-proof their homes this Christmas. 

During last year’s festive period, Vets Now emergency clinics across the UK experienced a two thirds rise in emergency calls - which included 667 cases of dogs eating mince pies, and 115 cases of chocolate wrapper ingestion. 

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Other unsuspecting items that were ingested by pets to ruin Christmas were advent calendars, Christmas puddings and tinsel. 

John Sheppard, Lead out of hours Vet at Vets Now in Glasgow, said: “From festive food and drink to decorations and even gifts, our homes harbour a myriad of potential hazards for pets at Christmas, and our caseload rises significantly over the festive season.” 

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Here are some top tips from the vet on how to have a happy Christmas and avoid rushing from the dinner table to the Charing Cross hospital between the main course and dessert:

1. Be mindful of food that can be harmful to your pets

Some of the most common foods that can make your pet ill are also commonly consumed around Christmas time - like chocolate, which contains a stimulant similar to caffeine which is harmful to cats and dogs. Across the UK last Christmas, Vets Now dealt with almost 1000 cases of dogs who had ingested chocolate. 

Over 60% of pet owners let their dogs join them for Christmas dinner - where staple dishes pose an array of threats. Anything high in fat or salt, like stuffing and gravy, is dangerous to dogs. 

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2. Keep meat on kitchen surfaces and carcasses in the outside bin

Continuing on the culinary side of Christmas, take care to keep tidy around the dinner. Cooked bones tossed around carelessly can cause serious harm to dogs who might pick them up - in the most serious of cases potentially piercing a dog’s digestive tract. 

3. Pet-proof your Christmas tree

If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure to vacuum around it daily, as pines falling down can cause problems when ingested, cuts to paws, and in severe cases, perforation of the intestines. 

Pets being electrocuted by Christmas tree lights is one of the most common cases vets treat over Christmas. It’s also a good idea to keep cables tidied away and tape any loose wires to the floor. Tree lights pose the hazard of burns and electric shocks when pets see them as a toy and end up all tangled up. 

Lastly, place as many baubles as you can near the top of the tree and try to buy shatterproof ones to avoid any accidents. 

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4. Be wary of poisonous festive plants 

Pretty as they may be, many plants that are hung up with Christmas decorations are actually poisonous to pets. 

Poinsettia, Mistletoe, Christmas Lily, Ivy, and Potpourri are all potentially toxic to cats and dogs. If they are part of your Christmas decor, place them high up to mitigate risk. 

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5. Check the materials of your festive ornaments 

Beyond the prospect of an overexcited dog smashing your festive ornament, some materials can actually cause serious harm. 

Snow Globes, a festive favourite, which are imported often contain antifreeze - as little as one 5ml teaspoon of which is enough to be fatal to a cat, while one tablespoon could be fatal to a dog. 

Other ornaments to be wary of this festive season are those made from salt dough. While making tree decorations can be a fun festive activity, with salt dough often used in primary schools, they can cause fatal salt toxicosis if ingested by your pet.