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The Dog Ate What At Christmas?

With the silly season quickly approaching,
Pet Insurance Australia has a timely reminder of the dangers this time of year can signal for our pets.

"As the Christmas trees and decorations quickly become the staple in many homes around the country, sadly, some Australian pets will also succumb to the vet emergency trends for this time of year," Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says.

From the typical tick and flea infestations to the more interesting claims of dogs ingesting all sorts of goodies, Pet Insurance Australia does witness spikes in claims around the summer period that can leave pet owners in a frantic situation.

"During this time of year, pet owners must stay vigilant with their pet's safety needs," Crighton says. "It's vital you keep up with your preventative treatments, especially for ticks and fleas for those pets who suffer from flea allergies."

Pet Insurance Australia also advises pet owners intending to travel with their pets this holiday season to check if the area is prone to ticks and be prepared.

"Tick paralysis is a terrifying situation for the pet and the owner," she warns. "With the cost of living and the additional expenses of the festive season, prevention is much cheaper than the extensive costs associated with an emergency tick situation, not to mention the emotional toll of potentially losing your pet. A simple $50 tick treatment from your local pet supplies store will make your pet almost tick-proof for three months."

As of November 2023, Pet Insurance Australia claim data already shows a 900% plus increase in paralysis tick claims compared to the year's cooler months. Based on seasonal history, PIA expects elevated tick claim levels right through to February.

"But ask any vet, and you'll find the high-end costs some pet owners pay, out of their own pocket, for life-support ventilators and 24/7 care over a number of days to save their pet from a paralysis tick event, is eye-watering."

Being the time of year when entertaining is high on the agenda for many homes, dogs are also more at risk of foreign body ingestion of objects and toxins.

"We certainly see a big spike in claims for foreign body ingestion during the warmer months," Crighton says. "This can be due to a host of reasons including entertaining and not securing rubbish bins correctly, too many new and interesting items being left around – cue the tinsel."

Skewers, fishhooks, corn cobs, underwear and even puffer fish have been known to cause issues with dogs over the past year. During the festive season, chocolate and alcohol toxicity is also a problem. Overfeeding and feeding dangerous human foods, including nuts, lollies, high-fat foods such as butter, and other toxic foods, can also pose a problem for dogs.

"Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can be found in many sugar-free lollies the children might be enjoying over this period," Crighton says. "Being educated on the toxic foods that affect our pets can prevent many issues from occurring."

Dogs are also masters at finding food; some breeds are better at it than others! Young pups and dogs can also be ultra-curious when sniffing out something that can ultimately harm them. Keeping your pet in a safe area during entertaining or when you cannot supervise them is a simple way to keep them safe.

"It's just ensuring that people remember dogs are natural scavengers, and thinking that Rover simply won't eat it is incorrect," Crighton says. 
"It's always best to ensure that your pet does not have access to anything that can cause detrimental effects to their health and wellbeing."
Top Tips For Summer

  • Ensure bins are correctly secured and cannot be accessed by your dog.
  • Keep dogs away from entertaining situations when you cannot fully supervise them.
  • Encourage guests to refrain from feeding your pet.
  • Snap skewers into small pieces when putting them into the rubbish.
  • Do not feed your dog corn cobs.
  • Put signs up notifying guests you have a dog and to shut the gate.
  • Never leave chocolate or alcohol in reach of your pet.
  • Secure fishing tackle boxes and keep rods up high with hooks firmly attached.
  • Keep all chemicals, including gardening sprays and bait, secure and out of reach.
  • Train your pet to keep away from the Christmas tree.

"Dogs are curious in nature, especially young pups, and they have an incredible sense of smell," Crighton says. 

"Meaning, wrapping boxes of chocolate up and popping it under the tree could be a recipe for disaster. Some simple preparation can prevent many issues from occurring that could see your festive celebrations turning into a sad and tragic event."

MEDIA RELEASE, December 2023

Related Stories:

Beware the Tick Menace this Summer Season!

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