Part 3

Top 6 household Christmas toxins to keep away from your pets

1. Salt Dough Decorations

Homemade dough can be used to model and create your own decorations but eating these could cause serious problems in your pet.  They typically contain high levels of salt and can cause vomiting within a few minutes, diarrhoea, lethargy, tremors, copious drinking and dehydration.  Animals may become weak and wobbly on their feet and they can develop fast heart rate and rapid breathing with high blood pressure.  In serious cases, there can be fits and kidney failure.

2. Candles

Although candles, even scented ones which contain low levels of perfume oils, are considered to be of low toxicity, ingestion could potentially cause obstruction or a choking hazard. Keep well away from your pets, and of course make sure your animals cannot come into contact with a lit candle.

3. Pot Pourri

Ingestion of pot pourri causes significant gastrointestinal upset in dogs. This can last several days 

even after the material has passed through the gut and is probably related to the mechanically irritating nature of the dried material rather than any toxic effects. Keep bowls of pot pourri out of reach of pets.

4. Fake snow

There is misleading and alarmist information on the effects of fake snow in pets, particularly cats, available on social media. It is usually made from polyacrylate or polyethylene and these substances are of low toxicity. If eaten fake snow could cause a mild gastrointestinal upset with hypersalivation, vomiting and diarrhoea, but the majority of animals remain well, and serious effects are not expected.

5. Batteries

Many toys require batteries to power them and these may be left lying around the house. Pets may chew the toy (or even the television remote control) and gain access to them. Batteries contain irritant material and can potentially cause redness and even burns if chewed. They may also leak in the stomach and cause damage to the gut. There is also the potential risk of blockage of the gut. In most cases however pets remain well after ingestion of a battery.

6. Recreational drugs

Some people may use recreational drugs during the party season and these may be left lying around or dropped, and pets, particularly dogs, may help themselves. There is a huge variety of different substances that people abuse for their stimulant, sedative or hallucinogenic properties and these can cause similar effects in animals. If your pet is behaving oddly, is very drowsy or unusually agitated these drugs may be the cause.


If you are concerned that your dog or any other pet may have eaten anything potentially poisonous and would like to know if it needs to be seen immediately by a vet, call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000. One of our veterinary poisons specialists will be able to tell you if a trip to the vet is required. We are always here 24 hours a day to help you and your pets.