Newsletter – December 2016

This is the last Newsletter this year, how time flies!  Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and New Year.

Dangerous foods for dogs at Christmas


Exactly why and how these are poisonous to dogs is unknown and the exact volume needed to cause symptoms is difficult to predict. Some dogs will eat one or two grapes and become seriously ill but others can eat many of them without apparent signs. The only way to be safe is to keep them out of reach of your dog.

Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake and Mince Pies

These Christmas fancies are bad for dogs for a number of reasons:

Firstly – they are jam-packed full of current raisins and sultanas. These are all a variation on the ‘grape’ and as such have the same serious health risks. It is common for them to ingest far more ‘grapes’ in this form than they would fresh grapes because there are so many packed into these cakes and they are smaller.

Secondly – they are full of fat, suet etc. which can often give them severe stomach troubles, vomiting etc. but also, more worryingly high fat meals are one of the high risk factors leading to pancreatitis. This can be a very serious and costly disease to treat.

Thirdly – they are usually laced with large amounts of alcohol which can cause many of the symptoms of intoxication seen in people.

Chocolate coins and other choccy decorations

Most people are aware of the dangers for dogs from eating chocolate and take steps to avoid leaving any near their dogs. However, it is not uncommon for people to forget about the chocolate coins or decorations and leave them in an irresistible location. As well as the dangers of the chocolate the actual wrapping foil can be problematic as they work through the gut system.


At this time of year we often cook far more meat joints than usual and this normally results in many more bones lying about. Once cooked all bones become brittle and splinter easily. This can lead to larger fragments getting ‘stuck’ causing obstructions but also smaller pieces can cause gut irritation and perforation or even just difficulty toileting.

Most people avoid the initial pitfall of your dog ‘borrowing the bones off the work surface’ only to get caught out later on by putting the deliciously tasty smelling carcass/bone into the bin where is gets raided in the night. Make sure you dispose of the string from any meat joints as this can be a tempting toy for your dogs and could be harmful if ingested. The best thing is to take it straight outside into a sealed bin.

N.B. Birds (turkey/chicken/goose) are all hollow boned animals and as such these bones will splinter either raw or cooked and so must never be given to your dog under any circumstances.

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, and as with all the other food groups mentioned if you suspect your dog has consumed macadamia nuts note the possible quantity consumed and contact your vet.


We tend to use much more alcohol in our cooking at this time of year and so even normal titbits can be potentially problematic over the Christmas period. As it is for people, alcohol is also intoxicating for dogs and can cause similar unpleasant side effects.

If your dog does get into mischief and consumes any of these things then the first thing to do is contact your local vet for advice. Often the quicker treatment is sought the easier and more successful the treatment.

By “Vets Now”


Children & Dogs

Children love petting dogs, playing with them and crawling after them. They especially love to hug or cuddle the family dog. Unwanted close contact sometimes causes dogs to feel harassed and they respond by snapping at the child. Many cases of dog bites involving small children happen in everyday life as the result of an apparently friendly interaction on the part of the child.

Bite incidents often occur despite supervision

“Dog owners should recognize situations in which their dog may feel harassed and they should intervene in time. Nevertheless, many bite incidents occur right in front of the adults’ eyes,” explains study director Christine Arhant from the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Protection at Vetmeduni Vienna. Her team is investigating why bite incidents involving the family dog are so common even under adult supervision. The group looked at the results of an online survey in order to provide the first analysis of parental attitudes regarding the supervision of child-dog interactions.

“Most of the respondents are aware of the general risk of dog bites,” says Arhant. The majority of the participants, however, underestimated the risk involving smaller dogs. Asked to look at pictures of child-dog interactions, the respondents rated interactions with unfamiliar dogs as inherently riskier than with the family dog.

Trust put ahead of attentiveness

Situations involving unfamiliar dogs, even with relatively lower risk, were rated as potentially dangerous. When it comes to the family dog, however, nearly all situations were rated as harmless with no need for intervention. Only the situation of a child cuddling with the dog in the dog’s bed was rated as a potential risk. Around 50 percent of respondents allow the child to play or cuddle with the dog as much as they want. The same number leaves the child and dog unsupervised.

“The healthy distrust of unfamiliar dogs does not appear to exist toward the family dog,” Arhant concludes. “People trust their own dog and exclude the possibility of a bite incident.” This not only reduces attentiveness, but dog owners also assume that the family dog is more tolerant and more patient than other dogs. “But people need to respect their dog’s need for rest and a place of its own,” Arhant says.

Attention should be paid to the dog’s need for space

The online survey shows that dog owners provide for their dog’s basic needs, such as walks or separate resting and feeding places. But most respondents appear not to know that a dog needs undisturbed resting periods away from small children. Only a few participants said they made sure that the resting and feeding place for the family dog was out of the children’s reach. “Spatial separation means adults do not always have to be attentive to the child-dog interaction. The child is safe and the dog has the chance to relax undisturbed,” the study director explains.

Awareness alone is not enough

The lack of adequate resting areas and resting periods for the dog may create situations in everyday life that could lead to a bite incident. Dog owners must therefore be instructed in proper child-dog supervision. Important factors include attentive observation, guidance of the child’s interactions with the dog and separating the dog from the child if necessary.

Children unable to recognize threat

Small children are not yet capable of understanding that a dog does not always want to be touched and followed everywhere it goes. If the dog feels harassed by the child or restricted in its freedom, it will communicate this through body language. Clear signs include body tension, growling, frequent licking of the snout and yawning. Small children have difficulties interpreting this behaviour. Even a growling dog or one baring its teeth is often described by children as smiling.


University of Veterinary Medicine – Vienna


Playing Tug of war with your dog.

Old fashioned trainers warn against this type of play saying the dog is/will become “dominant and then aggressive” which is out of date and incorrect advice.  Some dogs love to play tug of war and you must let them win the game sometimes, otherwise they will lose interest just as you and I would if we played sport with a friend and they always won!

But I would suggest you have some control of these games in the form of basic manners.  The dog is not allowed to rudely grab tug toy from your hand; have him wait politely for permission (the cue) to grab. Use a command (cue) such as “play” and if your dog grabs for the toy before you give the cue, just give a cheerful “Oops!” and whisk the toy behind your back.

Make sure the dog will “trade” (give you the toy in exchange for something else) – either on cue, or for a treat, using the cue “give” as he lets go of tug toy to take treat.

Take several “trade” breaks from tugging during the game, in order to solidify polite good manners.

The games I would never play or encourage at all is any form of “rough housing” or chasing the dog.  Rough housing often leads to a dog that becomes over stimulated, then starts tugging your clothes or mouthing your skin.  Chasing the dog games teach him how slow you are on two legs, compared to his four!  Not something I want him to learn as it can cause problems such as stealing something he shouldn’t have and running off with it in the sure knowledge you won’t be catching him up anytime soon!


Happy Christmas to you and all your fur kids!



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