Orchard House Veterinary Centre

12 Day(ngers) of Christmas – Day 1


On the 1st day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me… 


The chemical theobromine, which is a bit like caffeine, is found in chocolate and is toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause agitation, hyperexcitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart. The darker the chocolate, the more potent levels of theobromine become – with baker’s chocolate the most dangerous. Chocolate should be avoided at all costs. But what do you do if your dog does eat chocolate? Even small amounts have the potential to make them feel sick, but veterinary treatment should be sought for any dog ingesting more than 20 mg/kg of theobromine – that’s equivalent to 3.5 g/kg of plain or dark chocolate and 14 g/kg milk chocolate. White chocolate does not contain enough theobromine to cause toxicity, but it can be fatty and pose a potential risk of pancreatitis.  Avoid putting any chocolate on or under the Christmas tree, as the temptation might be too great for our four legged friends.


On the 1st day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me… 

Christmas tree

Christmas trees themselves, whether real or artificial, can be a hazard if your cat has a tendency to climb things they shouldn’t. The oils produced by some real Christmas trees are also mildly toxic if consumed, causing minor irritation to a pet’s mouth and stomach. Also be wary of using any fertilisers or plant food on your tree if it’s potted, as many are toxic to cats and can seep into watering trays. Don’t forget that containers with soil might also get used as litter trays! Additionally, there is a very small risk that sharp pine needles can cause internal damage if swallowed, or can get into eyes or ears – but cases are extremely rare. If you are concerned about this, and want to have a real Christmas tree, you could consider purchasing one of the non-drop variety.


On the 1st day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me… 

Christmas lights

The first thing to think about is how to hide the fairy lights on the tree or anywhere else in your home as they can be extremely dangerous. The soft insulation of power cords don’t offer any protection and if chewed on can cause electric shocks and burns in the mouth. It is important to keep cords to a minimum by trailing them out of reach or leading them up from a plug that is behind furniture. If you can’t hide the power cords you can cover them with something tough like plastic pipe, this can be split along its length and slipped over the cable so you don’t need to take the plug off.